Thursday, 31 December 2009

premature equestionation

o bollocks
i didn't start the new year with a question
i finished the last one
it wasn't a bad year
though i've had better
chief mistake was not writing a whole new show
otherwise... nonstop movement, beautiful p, not bad at all

start the year with a question

a very post-modern kind of question
all punctuation
with no letters or words
i used to say on stage
there's more and more questions
but i don't trust answers
they stop the free moves of this
mental dancer
but now i just say

happy zolo

yes happy
from a full-moon Cochin city

hoi an, march 2009

and, as mentioned yesterday
a piece i wrote earlier about Hoi An, half way up the Vietnamese Coast

And the day before... the restaurant after the restaurant at the end of the wolrd, yes wolrd ... aka au bout du monde ...
next a small jetty so ricketty its as near to an unjetty as a jetty can be... one of its makeshift-mayshift supports a simple pile of stones... precarious indeed for the allday payloads of putputting mopeds riding off the ferry boats from the unseen brother jetty across this harbour under its high afternoon sky of blanched blue and puffy white ... for the workmen and their tools, the whiteshirted men on their pristine machines back to danang thirty km north, the blue and white schoolkids on bikes, the overloaded women with bamboo and watermelon...
and, beyond, the palm-topped harbour leeward of the spit and the choppy south china sea... the sea just south of the gulf of tonkin...
was it really jim morrison's dad who started the vietnam war? well he was captain of the boat in the tonkin incident, which was the yanks equivalent of the fake polish invasion of germany on 1939 ...
while across the bay are ... the boatyards, with three fancy-white catamarans hauled ten feet above the concrete ...
the chinese fishing nets with, out in the bay, the man on the high platform before the thin bamboo ricketiness pulling on the six-pronged ropewheel and lifting the wide wide net out of the water to reveal a minimal catch another man on a tiny coracle rows out to...the short bowl-shaped boats... the fishing boats chugging out of sight round the head to the unseen sea... the green nets piled like turfs ...
If these people want a decent society the only thing they’re willing to do about it is subscribe to the disney channel
whilst here, in the browned shadows of the bar, the beer is larue, all of 10000 dong ... the fat barwoman unaccustomed to such custom... as i sit there replete... the universal chummy swapping of a light for a cigarette ...
the beached boats as muddy as a water buffalo's favourite duvet...
the spindly chickens picking at this, the natural human-stained armpit of the harbour...
the ruddy faced man pissing his drink in the drink next the jetty...
the mechanic in the GI moped helmet...
the two year old shitting brightish yellow ...
the women in their facemasks, the curiously functional and non-ornate two-ply facemasks ...
the lizards flitting on th walls, everywhere – hotel internet everywhere
to win had that i might win again... a gain again
before the cycle back from here, cuc dai, through the village...

the cups of sand with fifty incense stick stubs...
the high trilbies on the old cycling men, what are they called? i've seen them on the eight foot papier-mache figurines in some of the chinese pagodas...
the shagging dogs, yet more shagging dogs, the dogs here are notably randy ...
the hanging, is it, bougainvillea?...
the cycling schoolgirls holding hands, the cause of most of the near accidents on our lengthy bumpsquish trip north ...
the corner-swooping young guys on their buzzsaw mean machines, the same world over ...
the trail of schoolboys cycling shortlegged after speedy longlegged me down the spit to get here... calling out, i love you, i love you, oh yes, the kind of thing which happens when priscilla isn't here to chaperone me [?]...
back onto the road past the resorts which stretch from here up china beach towards danang...
nothing is true...but some things are more true than others... so is truth dead? ... no... truth is alive and well and living in manhattan ...preparing for the move to beijing
as i pedal back towards hoi an ...
a wonderful jewel of a place, possibly the most beautiful town i've ever been to...
pagodas, shrines, 500 year old bridges, a hundred tailors, a hundred cobblers, low distressed-yellow streets in higgledy-grid,
wooden balconies,
dark interiors,
cool-aired pagodas and assembly halls with their
rich intricate colours and
downright sinister papier-mache devils which,
here in hoi an,
are entwined by a single serpent,
the limpid waters rippling the moon,
the lantern shops a spectacular after dark,
the array of cheap local delicacies in every café and restaurant and, especially, the cafeteria stalls...
the killer papaya or mango salads,
the deep fried wonton with duck,
the rick pancakes, the fresh spring rolls,
the 16p beer,
the cheapest of the trip by a distance...
with the USAFucked ruins of the lost champa civilisation just 45km off...
in honolulu a couple of honeymooning ballroomdancers were hospitalised after falling asleep on a nudist beach in the sun... however, they were later seen retiring to their hotel rooms for some ginger rogers
and, well, either we're really lucky or there's no end of great places here because every time me and my sweetheart simply ramble ...
whether 200km by coach to a barely known...
or a mapless perambulation round a city...
or a brisk cycle to the coast ...
or a following of road down povertyfucked longhouses to a floating muslim village, with its mosque on stilts and its waterside market of watermelons and corn...
or the bonkers 30km trip on the back of a moped in darkness and rain, including the breakdown outside the brothel, the crash into the schoolgirls, the voracious sellsellsell of the ten fifteen shouting pricing repricing mocking rejecting pricing mopedmen which got us into this nonmess in the first place...
cos we sure had to git somewhere away from them and that and the descended darkness of grubby hyperbiztown danang...
they’re not just selling their own souls... they’re selling our souls as well
and well, after all this near-random guidebooked whateverness we, with ever-accidental smartness, end up somewhere bloody marvellous...
cos this place has so much to offer...
an old world urban paradise, a flat moonlit river, the big green or blue sea, the gridded yellow streets to be walked again and again, and again...
the ancient japanese bridge...
with beer and black coffee and fruit shakes...
the streets of watersellers terracotta-sellers lottery-sellers tailors cobblers, more tailors more cobblers, the same motorcycle men calling out to me four times a morning as i beeline from hotel to coffee to internet to hotel to market to foodstalls to coffee to rentabike...
a fertile bed of ideas gone to dust, a language of words and ideas once rich and earthy, now the stuff of tumbleweeds and distances, premature ageing and famine, flapskin jowls, and trains and buses that don't come no more...
where once, between fingers, it would clump and stick, ever different every time, now it is all powder and falling away
the unquestioned presumption of our own goodness, all empures [sic?] worship at the temple of themselves...
history is written by the winner then who writes it when everyone loses?
what a place, as nice as prague, split, varanasi, barcelona, paris, fez, uhh lacock, edinburgh, new orleans...
a relief after saigon which was great but BigCityAnywhere, the Vietnamese version, like pnhom penh was great but Big City Anywhere the Cambodian version ...
[the United States of Urbia?]...
the, errr, moon? so huge it must be a lamp nearby, no a balloon going up over the island, no, its the moon, huge and golden...
and rising to whiten and shrink high in the stars...
and i feel both kind of embarrassed, and who-cares? ...
cos it is a total tourist trap...
yet more of the global archipelago of the united states of touristan ...
but the reason its a tourist trap is cos its so magical...
more than anywhere else on the trip... a
nd we can do so much from here, champa beach food walks cycle a-hundred-tailors-shops-for-priscilla-to-unload-buckets-in, my summer performance shirts, [black silk-cotton with golden embroidery?], etc that, why leave?...
so we won't...
but i will be of course be doing my anti-tourist poem all summer so this is hypocrisy...
but hey, hypocrisy makes the world go round, we all always knew that right?...
cos the second worst thing about all this is that all the tourists are here...
but the worst thing is that i'm here...
this place would be so much nicer if i and my manky stodgy wooden western mind wasn't...
astral travelling anyone?...
anti-heisenbergianism anyone?...
and i remember when i went to india...
thinking, when i left, new world same me, and thinking, when i returned will it be, same world, new me...
when in fact its just me me and me again, hauling the baggage luggage and ricketty train carriages and wheelless rickshaws and unfunct pantechnica of both my past and my grimy scaly barnacled brain...
clanger man's top tips...
if you've got a nice girlfriend, or boyfriend, and for some stupid reason you want to be single, then the deft and opposite use of the question, which one are you? will ensure its swift demise... which one are you?...
a guaranteed dealbreaker, the sad single man's stupidendous swansong...
can i invent the word stupidendous?...
when you're clanger man you certainly can
and if you're a politician and you want to lose power, maybe there's some bad economic times coming and you want to get out, then clanger man recommends instituting mandatory annual driving tests,yes, mandatory annual driving tests, and you'll soon be out of power
and if you really want to muck up your life, firebomb your own house for the insurance but then confess to the police after five minutes’ questioning... i've heard of it happening
a lush setting for human beings to find themselves in, river and estuary and sea and flood plain and paddyfield and cornfields and jungle...
yet, being massively touristy and only 90000 strong, how much function has the place except for the tourists?...
all the tailors and cobblers and ceramic-shops are geared to tourists ...
yet despite this it is a great place to stop, to get over the twelve hour bumpcrashysquish busrides, the six hour bumpcrashysquish minbusrides...
for it is truly alien and i've realised it is the alien i like most in all this, the big 100-day 4-country quickquickfartooquick trip...
it is the indisputably new and unknown and alien that crank my grimy sweaty handle...
the jungle, the jungle islets, mosquito-net bamboohut and all, the chinese pagodas, the cambodian palaces, the great food, whether the shrimps and kampot pepper, or the soups or the salads, the crammed cheapish buses, the markets...
whether the veg market, the meat and fish the cloth or the everything market...
in bangkok in trat in siem reap [even] in battambang in kompong chhang in kompong cham in pnomh penh in kampot in saigon in dalat in kon tum and now here...
and the alien of discovering myself raving about spicy salads, about wooded carvings in the pagodas, about the catchy cambodian dance tunes staying with me for days, about the new sense of beauty in the pagodas, about the thick people-soup streets...
yes, on my first tour, i got off the plane in montreal and i started talking about myself, i then proceeded to talk about myself all the way into ontario where i got even better at talking about myself and headed west, continuing to talk about myself across the prairies with ever more consummate aplomb, despite the fact that nobody in saskatchewan actually listened, and proceeded to roll into british columbia where i was talking so loudly about myself that they could hear me before i even got there and where i talked about myself with ever greater vigour variety ease and erudition until i finally got on the plane 15 weeks after i had started talking about myself and finally, actually, stopped, talking about myself...
it was not bad
and nowhere is how we expect ...
so much so we plan to discuss and pindown our thoughts on what each next place is like just so we can marvel out how wrong we are...
and we emerge from so many great trails we would never choose to venture down from the far end...
and the great fun of having the limits of vocabulary so taxed...
the haloes of the gods less technicolour than acid techno... the spiral incense cones, the six-foot ashdropping spiral incense cones ...
the pagoda backspaces an asian food court of deities...
of finding words for the tastes, the smells, the textures the patterns the bustle the fruit the veg the sound the words the script, of failing to find words for the tastes, the smells, the textures the patterns the bustle the fruit the veg the sound the words the script the faces the smiles the teeth the clothes the desperation the disappointment...
cos i am always notbuying...
and notbuying when their hopes, the shopkeepers the restaurant owners the salesmen the saleswomen, have gone up, is pretty damn awful and means i move stonyfaced, as Brit-me ever, through the streets the markets, eyes only flitting with interest cos there is, as with siem reap [angkhor wat] and elsewhere, an air of desperation to it all, these people haven’t got much, they haven’t got enough, at all...
so even if you stop at the end of a 200 metre driveway down to a seaside café a woman will instantly sprint towards you from the café, attempting to bolt the 200 in treble-quick time and show you the menu so you shove off sharpish cos it feels cruel and resume your slow-past pedalling, watching, thinking, rehearsing
EGO-TOURISM out of the way/ out of the way/ clean it up a bit/ there’s enough of you/ out of the way/ out of the way/ i like that/ i don’t like that/ i like that/ i don’t like that/ out of the way/ out of the way/ all this for me?/ you shouldn’t have/ out of the way/ out of the way/ i’m very pleased i’m here, with myself/ thank you/ out of the way/ out of the way... i am enjoying myself/ for there is much in my self to enjoy

And the next day...From heavily bustled old town, the buzzingdisconcord of the generators seeing how there’s a powercut, the calls of the moped men, the taxi men, the shoesellers, tailors, watercolourists, artists, cafes, restaurants...
to bumpbikey unmade roads, on map but not yet made, to pagoda to pagoda to jungly country lane to rice paddy estuary to deep-wallowing waterbuffalo in a waterbuffalo-sized deep wallow to stork to fishermen to fishing village to fighting dogs to agent orange girl, twelveish, with bulging eyes and oversized widening head, to bridge to fishing village to bombed-up cactus dunes to dual carriageway to defunct old resorts to half-built new resorts to village, all the while hello hello helloing back at the wide-smiling calling kids, and some of their calling wide-smiling mothers, to manic car-park to family beach of vietnamese Saturday afternoon before the coldish crashing sea and high blue with a beer and a chance for us to discuss again how much we are enjoying ourselves

Burning Santa

and our last day in Fort Cochi... its new years so we may try to find a party
there's a big carnival tomorrow
which is why we've stayed
and tonight at 12 they burn a giant effigy of Santa
yes Santa
which is symbolic of burning the old year out
being done with the past
but why Santa?
and along the streets a few kids have made effigies of Santa... and are doing a penny for the guy thing like we do for November 5th... funny that both our Guy Fawkes and their Santa get burnt
... and bth are an excuse for kids to beg where otherwise begging would be out...
and there all manner of santas appearing all over town... skiing santa, happy family santas, tightrope-walking santa, moped santa... mostly municipal santas... though the drunken santa, shabby and sprawled and surrounded by bottles, in a field in the middle of backwater nowhere, yesterday, wins our votes ...
and its full moon, and the police are out in force... the hotel owners of the town were called to a police meeting, where they were warned to warn tourists to look out for "untoward incidents..."

why you go traveling...

For great days like this
We wake earlyish and coffee while i go to the v friendly travel place and, after a few computer crashes, buy two tourist quota train tickets to Trichy for our wholescale self relocation into Tamil Nadu on the 1st..... Indian Railways are very organised and the quota tickets only become available at 8a.m., two days beforehand, and will be gone in a couple of hours so, if you want to get anywhere, you have to do it then... Otherwise we’d have to wait till the 4th at the earliest
Then we get our bikes and, well before its gets hot, though its cloudy, we board the small car ferry 400m north over to Vipeen, which is the south end of Vipeen Island, which is very long and thin, stretching north south, with one straight road we go at with some gusto, having been confined on Fort Cochin, belting down the busy road with the tradly banging Indian traffic banging swerving and putputting past us.
And pass a temple with three bedecked elephants eating palm leaves and a band of drummers and trumpeters and even fanfares, which we all stand and watch while drinking club soda and then head on, tiring of the road after 20km so, swapping lungfuls of diesel fumes for lungfuls of jungle air and then sea air, we head off down a mudpath by a waterway to turn parallel to the sea, along the edge of yet more of the Keralan inland waters, the paddies and prawn farms and fishing lakes, the houses and waving kids and muddy puddles, and soon reaching a road out across the lakes to the sea which, hot and sweatily bothered, we jump straight in.
To get out and toddle about on our wheels, have some great overfried fish in butter in a cheap café, before tootling off down an empty road quite possibly going nowhere but which simply continues south, so we’re by the sea-wall going past houses and waterways and stop to jump in the sea while reading Theroux and Rushdie, and then tootle some more and turn left to stand on bridges over the water looking out at the silver and greenery, the herons and kites, and toddle on, pedalling lazily and, fortunately, not meeting a cul de sac so, after some luck, we simply get forced back onto the main road, bump into another temple festival with two bands, one bunch of drummers and another brass outfit who are half New Orleans jazz, half Indian arhythm, which is great to watch as we sweat and drink water and eat our daily ice cream and then pedal to the ferry, crossing in the usual jam of men and machines, having the usual nice barely-verbal chat with a couple of guys in dhotis, one of whom gives us some things which is very like a yellow-white natural candyfloss, and come back here and i sleep while Priscilla goes to a Kathikali dance.
Not a bad day. Simple. One of my best days of the year was a long tootle roundabout Hoi An, and another beetling about Kompong Cham in Cambodia, and this day was up there with those.
priscilla says she saw a gang of men wrestle an old guy to the ground who was yelling and screaming and trying to force a metal stick through an electricity substation wall into the substation itself... so he could kill himself... and the small old guy is writhing around under six young guys trying to stop him from kiling himself
and i passed a small old guy, four foot six, with bent necked stoop, and craggily lined sunken eyes, wearing a shabby offcolour t-shirt which reads you laugh at me because i'm different, i laugh at you because you're all the same

of course, it was ever so, and thus...

Once great insights now become
past innovations now
past victories of the mind
the body
the spirit
the will
becoming but
in India
if you type the word Brahmin on the computer
it instantly gives itself a capital B… Brahmin Brahmin
strangely, if you type in untouchable or dalit
the same capitalization does not happen

for i am

20 kilo man
you get my drift?

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

81 places in one year

I’ve just realized how ridiculous my life is

Part 54

So I had to wait 20 minutes for a ferry and, having no book and not wanting to leave the shade, I decided to count how many places I’ve stayed in this year

And it came to a ridiculous 81, yes 81. Counting the train and 2 buses where I might have slept, and not counting the 4 overnight planes where I didn’t. And not counting the beds I returned to… Calgary, Trat, Camberley, Finchampstead, Dalston, Luang Prabang, Muang Neua Noi, Luang Nam Tha.

So, as this Blog is purportedly the record of a year in a nomadic poet’s life, I suppose I should get all anal and list them. And after that I’ll post an email I sent out from Hoi An in March, a very good bit of the year

So here goes.

It began in…

Copenhagen… we lived there three months, up till mid-Feb, and that was just about long enough… I simply couldn’t get excited by the place… unlike…

Berlin – Which I could get very excited about … but where I caught flu on an ice-cold airbed and went nowhere for 5 days. Bummer. … Then…

Camberley. Surrey - my parents’

Finchamsptead, Berks - my brother Chris’s

Bangkok - the traditional new traveller’s decompression in Banglamphu.


Ko Whai - the first of three great bamboo-hut beach island paradise experiences.

Trat again


Siem Reap – for Angkor Wat. Truly gobsmacking. Though a tad tragic, seeing how it’s a ruin.


Kompong Chhnang. Great place… mosque on stilts, pottery villages, errr mass murder site, stilted river villages, waterside sunsets, fat Tonle Sap sluggishly heading for Pnomh Penh, lush green riversides, beer-offering Saturday-off policemen and all…

Kompong Cham

Pnomh Penh- Took a while to get to like the place.

Pnomh Penh again. One of the worst rooms.


Some place south of Kampot on the coast.

Ko Tonsai, aka Rabbit Island- The second of three great bamboo-hut beach island paradise experiences.

Pnomh Penh- An even worse room. Then


Saigon - Least favourite of all the famous and anticipated places. Worst moment was watching The Watchmen bolloxmovie there – the bit where he gets his superpowers in time for the Yanks to not lose the Vietnam War, and the screen gets filled with exploding Viet Cong, was one of the year’s lowest points.



Hoi An- Killer place. We got there after an idio-epic 30km back-of-mopeds journey, and after 2 minutes of looking at streets, P said lets stay here a week. My favourite place of the year. Food streets walks shirts seas beer river paddies lakes birds cactus moon, etc

Hué- Priscilla’s favourite place of the year. The old Forbidden Palace etc, the old Citadel, etc.

Ninh Binh- Great bike rides round the green rice fields between the high Karsts, the vast limestone stacks… If a fifty-mile high giant walked down this part of the coast he would find this pointy bit very painful.

Haiphong- Error.

Hanoi. Then a Bus from Hanoi to


Vientiane- Reminded me of Brighton on the Mekong

Viang Veng- Reminded me of nothing except maybe a bonkers Ibiza up the Mekong..

Luang Prabang- Super-elegant French-Lao town way up the Mekong…

Nong Khiew- The boy in the blizzard of butterflies. The muddy riverbank had bath-sized carpets of white butterflies, and if someone walked through one they all flew up and became a blizzard. It was good to walk through yourself and be surrounded by a crazy flying confetti… but it was better to watch someone else… The boy in the blizzard of butterflies.

Muang Neua Noi - No cars no mopeds, not even motorcycles. Only woodcarts ,and boats up the Nam Ou.

Huong hill village a trek away- The trek through jungle, paddy, bamboo, tall grass, slash’d’n’burnt, and down the middle of a jungle river, was an extravaganza of fifty different types of large butterfly, each by the literal thousand. Most amazing experience of year. The village itself was hard: life looked unenviably tough up there.

Udomxai. [sp.]

Luang Nam Tha.

Acha Village a trek away.

Luang Prabang again- So nice we came back. Nearly killed myself on a 30km midday cycle to those wonderful waterfalls south. I got heatstroke which was finally cooled by lying/ floating with arms on the edge of the natural porcelain smooth deep bowl, letting the water flow through me over the edge while I looked out and over way way down the green green valley

Hueng Xai- Lao/ Thai border.

Chiang Mai.

Lampong - All-you-can-eat ice cream parlour!!!


Copenhagen- The vicarage …?

Then England before

Winnipeg- B&B. With P’s mum.

Montreal- Doncha just love it? I do. So does everyone else… Stayed with my mate Felix. Start of 7th tour. 62 shows, 110 days

Montreal- Then a switch of billet to Rosemont. New area.


Toronto- Great house, but mediocre reviews of shows which had gone plain great set summer pattern of OKness not fabness.

Winnipeg- Lovely billet but another luke review made it hard. I ran a killer cabaret and was very happy with my own show by the end.

Calgary- Super billet but, with Saigon, worst time of year.

Edmonton- Cheap and v cheerful Commercial Hotel. Great times. Started this blog for CBC. Best showfun of year.

Hinton, Alberta- Motel east or Rockies

Merrit, BC [sp?...?] - Motel west of Rockies

Victoria- Best billet. ORCAS, etc. …This blog took off.

Vancouver- End of fringe tour. I organised a killer cabaret: best show of year…. Eric/ RedBastard etc. Emotional split of everyone.

London, Ontario- First time there. Two last shows before I tottered to…

Dauphin, Manitoba- For some sleep.

Then Camberley,


Dalston, London

Stoke Newington,



Norwich- Cathedral, Holkham Beach, Southwold, etc…

Camberley- Then


Hyderabad- 5 million people, no centre


Tirupati- An unmitigated hole.

Then a night on a train before

Patnem, Goa- The third of three great bamboo-hut beach island paradise experiences.


Mysore- Great place






Fort Cochin Here.

So that’s, by my count, 81. Dunno, after making that list, who cares?

81. Places. 88 moves. In one year. Crazy.


Tuesday, 29 December 2009

and the past caught up with me

three years ago
for the first time in 15 years
i slowed down
and the past caught up with me
the bites in the night... a bad cochin night of some fierce mosquito bites... giving me the most restless itchy night since arrival... yet, when i awoke, i could not find the bites... i must have dreamt them...

Sunday, 27 December 2009

over here are some i prepared earlier

and none of this is having any dent on the bucket of unused ideas
it is not getting any emptier
it never gets any emptier

a strained visual soup..
colandered into 57 pours pours of ceasless pixel
freedom is not in the choice
it is the choosing
it cannot be used
for it is in the using

the world is young and in love with itself
the world is old and bitterly envious of the young
not enough hours in the day to think in
once the martyr to their art
now the art-er to their mart
now that i am freer
to steer through the blear
from near to far

the enlightenment

if the enlightenment happened now, it would be condemned as a communist plot
and Edinburgh would be the new Teheran...

the realists' view of Christmas gift-giving

it is better to give than it is to receive
but only in the act of giving
after which
it is better to have received
to have

war is the first casualty of truth...

and truth is the first refuge of the scoundrel

beyond survival of the fittest

can we see the human race as
the first species to go beyond
survival of the fittest?
in some ways elephants have achieved elements of this social living
as have monkeys
and possibly whales and dolphins
but humans have gone way further with social living
for the social living of humans is in many ways a means to let the less strong thrive
they can find their own roles
they can play to their strengths
without having their lack of power, of physical strength, be their nemesis
this is what makes us human, more than animals
the way in which we are social beings
so the libertarians
the chicago school
the republicans
would seek to take us back into the realm of the animal
the antediluvian fossil
as with all metaphors
what value is there in thinking this way?
and in what ways are its facts and assumptions unfounded?

poem for rob gee

i cain't paint 'im quaint
cos quaint 'e ain't
nor even faintly dainty

catching snatches of chaos

sleepily watching the slow-moving humans
for the slightest signs of ongoing evolution

out of the habit of habits

boot up my brain
to join the escape committee in the prisonhouse of language
and get
out of the habit of habits
no longer a prisoner of other people's small-mindedness

the city

the city aches
as it stretches and wakes
bruised and bluesed
as it ever renews
and we are but
rolling stock
for the
poisons of the past

the first thing i felt when i came out the womb was...

guilt i would never be a Catholic

mistaking a metaphor for reality

all the bloody isms

chicken or egg?

... learn how to love i must learn how to live
... learn how to live i must learn how to love

arm in arm

here Indian male-friends walk down the street hand in hand, often arm in arm
and it is casual, unself-conscious and i doubt it has any gayness
its just friendship
so how long is it since English male friends could simply walk down the street, arm in arm or hand in hand?
i wonder

what do you think of Indian civilization?...

Gandhi was famously asked
what do you think of Western Civilization
and famously replied
i think it would be a very good idea
which is both brilliant and arrogant because it begs the obvious question...
looking at the ragged children, the fast cars, the imperious arrogance of the obviously wealthy, the Dalits and the Brahmins
the filth of the filth
the squalour of the squalour
what do i think of Indian Civilization?
i think it would be a very good idea

the new spin, or

the shaming of the true
so what is the new spin?
... buying journalists
public language has been so spun it can only spuriously make a meaning
and the role of a spin doctor has become that much harder
for so much spin has been spun that spin has lost its stick
so what have the republicans and their lobbyists resorted to?...
buying journalists
paying them a retainer to print something more like the lobby would want to see
its a neat trick
and further erodes the value of truth
and which, for them, is a good thing
making it a double victory

the biggest thing in the universe

what is the biggest thing in the universe?
its size

inkless inklings

ahhh words
each its only unique homogeniser
each its own filter out of other possible meanings
each its own whittler
its own winnower
thinning out the possible meanings
to mean ...
ahhh metaphors
each its own key
to unlock the opening ideas
do we word the world?
or does the world word us?
is the trick to articulate yourself
before the world articulates you?

the language of love is...

the god of love

apples and snakes..

the greedy tree in the desert/
which soaks up all the water/
so little else can grow

has everything been said?

and some may say
everything has been said
but only if words never change their meanings
and change they do
like a slow purification of water through a mountain
or like a stampede of elephants over a picket fence
change they do

rock n roll is the new oral tradition

and fifteen years ago there was all that ballyhoo about

performance poetry being the new rock n roll
which was a play on that neat line
comedy is the new rock n roll
and well, it was a good idea but sadly nowhere near the truth
but i do believe
rock'n'roll and rap are the new oral tradition

performance poetry

and i call myself a poet but, to be honest
to be a poet can only ever be an aspiration
and the best definition of poetry i've ever heard is doctor johnson
the best possible words in the best possible order
ahhh performance poetry
the most possible words in the least possible order
performance poetry
standing on the toes of giants
ahhh performance poetry
the ear is more sensitive than the eye
and without language we are mammals...
ahh me, the synaptic gimp
with his synaptic limp
the inkless inklings
performance poetry
where you're only as good as your next show
ahh the performance poet
the sculpter of air

The Oath of the Aragonese Court to the Aragonese King

and for a further piece of politics
i would now like, to give you
the best political agreement ever
it’s a bit obscure I admit, but this is
The Thirteenth Century Oath of Allegiance of the Nobles of Aragon, in Northern Spain, to the Aragonese King…
So I’m not making this up
who are no worse than you,
accept you,
who are no better than us,
to be our sovereign king and lord
provided that you observe all our laws and liberties,
but if not, not

best political agreement ever

definition of post-modernism

which is also known as most-ponderism
so here we go
Don't Judge A Cover By its Book



"better than his last …"
"an aesthetic shambles from start to finish"
"sensitive in the extreme… yet audaciously user-friendly"
"a real page turner"

"compellingly vacuous… the sense of rhythm is unimpeachable"
"cynically attempts to be all things to all men … and even more blatantly leaves room for sequels… and, lastly, obviously, a cheap and inconsequential rip-off of John Cage"
"it pains me to have to state that everyone knows I covered this ground so much more expeditiously in my ninth collection when i…"
"puts language out of its misery "

"like ee cummings without the words…or Kublai Khan without the drugs"
"acheingly touching in its inability to comprehend the world of today … a tremendous leap forward for this new voice"
"why o why"
"semaphores of music… an uneasy marriage of Beckett and Pinter "
"left me wanting more"

"tiresome, reactionary even, in its demand for adjectives …constipated … if only deleuze and guatarri were alive today"
"sublime in its evocation of the rocky road to thinking… few in number in any age are the artists so willing to take on their times"
"a cruel mockery of those afflicted with writer’s block"
"my wife found it very useful for planning a visit to the supermarkets"
"begins, as it ends, brimful of self-indulgence … words fail me"
"hooks us like fish"

"obviously ghost-written … while we applaud with one hand the artist’s bravery …it remains sadly unclear precisely which empty-headed generation the artist is commenting upon … gives its plot away too early"

the bucket of unused ideas

well i'm supposedly a writer
though i have tenuous a toehold on the world of letters as it possible to have whilst still actually having one
but i do make a living from writing and performing... in the medium which doesn't properly exist... performance poetry
and i never made the poets vow of poverty
so i'm still amazed i ended up making a living doing this
but i do think most writers must have a much more organised way of working than i do
i mean, as a writer i quite suit performance poetry... in that i have loads and loads of disconnected ideas
am constantly brimming over with them
and as a performer you need to fill all the moments
in an hour show you cannot have any phase of weak ideas
so you need to keep the ideas and writing coming at a pretty constant rate
and i do it at a high-energy rate
and spill them out faster than almost anyone can take them in
so i need masses mof bold new and appealingly worded ideas
a glut a pour a mass of welter of them
yet i do often wonder if i make it way too difficult for myself
by having such a backlog of disparate ideas
i try to have a filing system
but no filing system of categories ideas holds water for very long
whim and logic break all categories sooner or later, and generally sooner
so i have on disk and on paper and swirling around my brain, in and out of the reach of memory, a brawling mass of hundreds if not thousands of ideas
and they frequently overwhelm me to the point where i cannot work
for its all too much
and there is so much i cannot remember right now
or will piece together better at a clearer headed time
and often its like playing memory
that card game of remembering pairs i and many others played as kids
and of forlornly moving bits around hoping they'll fit together if i just keep trying...
so yes, the bucket of unused ideas
its spilling over
always spilling over
its unwieldy, heavy, and it never seems to get any emptier, no matter how much stuff i eventually finish
and i thought this blog would help
would help collate ideas into coherent wholes
so to try harder to make this blog help
i'm going to do twenty blogs in one day
yes twenty
and see if that helps
let's see

Was it filthy?


Was it filthy?

It was as filthy as...

As filthy as...

As filthy as ... a water buffalo’s favourite duvet

Saturday, 26 December 2009

perfect 0



If you take the god from the good

do you have a

nothing, a

nought, a


or do you have a

perfect O, a

clean slate, a

blank canvass

to colour and shade

as you



The most amazing thing happened…

Except, I’m not quite sure what happened

Cos, well, how did he do that?

Kalaripayyat is a Keralan Martial Art. Five hundred years old. Tribal. The moves derived from animals in the jungle.

So we pay 150 each to see a very cursory performance/ exhibition of this unique though karate-esque art. And its good to watch but the thing is just for tourists and lacking depth cos, well, its only an hour.

But the four guys are good, and they are very fast and the swords spark … etc.

And then, at the end… one guy with a metre and a half long bamboo stick is attacked by two guys with knives and short sticks … and about ten seconds later he’s over one side of the stage with all the weapons … while the two attackers are over the other side lying prone on the floor with their arms all locked behind them… with the bamboo stuck through their twisted limbs so that they cannot move… so they are twitching and grunting on the ground, immobilised by a single stick… which is like a lock…

And I’ve never heard of such a thing… and nor I would suspect have many other people… because it would make a marvellous movie image… cos the guys aren’t harmed… but are stuck there, locked, humiliated… it would also be a neat restraint technique for police forces, amongst other…

Wow. I know it was choreographed but… Wow…how did he do that?

Friday, 25 December 2009





On the train north-east through Alabama
the black cleaner
shuffling up the aisle
moves forward
in the side-to-side motion
of one wearing
chain-gang shackles

Thursday, 24 December 2009

kerala conundra



Has mainly been communist since the fifties
The rickshaws drivers are scrupulously honest and don’t take tips
The bus drivers are the wildest drivers of them all
There is very close to 100% literacy
Beer is hard to find
Christmas bingo reverberates around the streets conflicting with the Boney M Xmas album
There’s beetroot in the masala of my dhosas
Newspapers have little on "Brokenhagen", and little could be learnt from them
Strikes have been known to happen on the day a new business opens
Christmas tat sellers have uncommon similarities to cockney wideboy touts
Chinese fishing nets keep coming up empty
Jews were here since the time of Solomon… arrived in waves after Masada… were smashed by ‘Moors’, bloodthirstily pogrommed by Portuguese and, with Israel’s rise, are now almost gone
Boy from teak museum village has pudding bowl haircut
The big fishing boats are pretty much the same design as the Argos of the Greeks
Its one of the wealthiest Indian states
How many of these things are connected?

Nestorian Church in Thrissur, no pictorial representations of people… very like the 500 year old synagogue in Jew Town, Kochi… not sure its actually Nestorian… I didn’t know there were any Nestorians left
Lots of hanging glass… which design might have looked stunning five hundred years ago but now looks antiquated… surpassed by technologies
There are also the Nasrani here… who might be the Malabar Jews converted to Christianity by St Thomas… who supposedly came here on his long mission of evangelism… [Christian originally meant converted gentile … Nasrani, Nazarene, meant converted Jew]… but how they differ from the Syrian church and the Nestorians I do not know

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

the human race... don't you love it?... yes i do...

its the only possible way to cope with it

So, behind me as I write, the ancient shabby room of off-white, faded cream and faded olive green is being furnished with Christmas…
In our 17th Century Dutch hovel, bang central Fort Cochin… The elegant but grubby guttered Portuguese Dutch English Indian streets and houses of the Keralan tourist zone of Kochi/ Ernakulam.
The streets white and ordered and rough-edged… beautiful basilica of santa cruz… old houses … deep cool interiors through antique doorways… courtyards of drying spice… the strong scent of ginger in the byways of the, errr, strikingly named Jew Town…
…The clean streets stretching south out of the tourist zone into the filthy, the cluttered, the ramshackle and the stinking… where the Keralans live.
3-an-hour ferries, Chinese fishing nets, old Jewish quarter, fish landing, pushy restaurant touts, racks of colourful silk, parching heat, mosquitos with jagged rapier probosci, clandestine booze, female tourists in semi-Indian dress.
Our humble abode rickety, dilapidated, and none too clean…After some uncharacteristically up-market accommodation choices we went for ...the romantic shocking and characteristic cheap over the clean, sterile, ordered and expected…
Went for this… With the charm of the antique. And a sense of the unique. And a certain quasi-European mystique. Though at every step a… creak… And in the rain, I’m sure, a leak. And down the walls many a … streak.
Ahem. [Hoorah for bad poetry… of which I shall not, errr, speak]
So P is trying to not look on the dingy side of life… and we have to work at the room to make it pleasant. Clean it ourselves. Net it ourselves. Cool it ourselves… with an ingenuity we do not as yet possess….
Thick walls, old wooden shutters, heavy creaking floorboards, thin partition walls, stone balcony … all scuffs and mottles and streaks and stains and cracks and flakes and long-dead pipes and cobwebbed corners and hanging electrics and rough mortar and layered paint and ill-cornered colour and bowed wooden panels and paper-stuffed holes…
And a plastic Christmas tree with a garland of white flowerbuds, plus shiny hanging decorations and fresh flowers… All the product of five hours of hard-shopping over the water round Broadway where we wasted an hour queuing for Avatar, accidentally found, but couldn’t be bothered with the hassle and so kept shopping and struggling with the bustled noisy crowds thickening and thickening into the early evening, the barkers like honorary cockney wideboys… To return, not laden enough…
I love metropolitan ferries and river buses … Bangkok, Istanbul, Vancouver, even Winnipeg and London… The beauty of the ride and the water against how they’re matter-of-factly everyday, industrial even, and frequently filthy… The city reinvented from the water… The eye on the ferry, inches above the flat plane of luminescent silver-grey water, beneath a sky grey except where coalfire red from the unseen but sinking sun.
Its the oldest room P has ever stayed in… she says its like sleeping at her grandmother’s twenty-five years ago. While I once stayed in a 12th Century French basement so it’s probably [memory… memory] the, errr, second oldest room I’ve ever stayed in.
The 12th Century French basement was a weird one… near Aubenas, near the Ardeche, mid-South… this old woman gave me a lift and offered me the place… it was originally a tiny one-room house, the walls were more than three foot thick, and two bigger but not big rooms had been built on top of it, up the slope, a hundred years after… I remember driving up the thin valley to the plain it was on… hair-pinning our way up through the rock and green until we came out on to the wide shallow valley, itself an intricate and irregular patchwork of small green brown and yellow fields, which rose on both far sides to small hills… one of which was crowned with a village of white stone … the other with a village of black stone… the first the Catholic village, the second the Protestant village… the village in the white hats, and the village in the black hats… so, seeing as how that area had seen some awful religious wars, with many Protestant/ Huguenot communities being wiped out … and, oh yes, this being the human race… on at least three occasions the men of one village had, some ugly morning, snuck down one slope and up the other to massacre a sizeable proportion of the other village …
And still the villages sat there, the white and the black, facing each other with what seemed like an old and festered resentment
The human race… don’t you love it?… yes I do… it’s the only possible way to cope with it

... and the Portuguese, when they came, gave the Jews of the Malabar Coast much the worst time anyone ever gave them... pure anti-Semitic bloodlust... while they were building the original of the lovely Basilica

The human race… don’t you love it?… yes I do… it’s the only possible way to cope with it

Monday, 21 December 2009

How To Ride An Indian Bus, Or...

Insanity isn’t insanity when it’s the norm


It’s a cliché I know but… looking at this driving… bonkers isn’t bonkers when it’s the norm

I mean, its your life, your body, and you’ve only got one…and there is no way you would ever, ever, try to take the risk of squeezing a big bus through that tiny gap at the very last moment on these roads of all roads … and then do the same thing again thirty seconds later… and again… and again… all day, every day, week in week out, year in year out

And there is no way you would stake your life on judging the acceleration of this old machine on these bumpy roads to get you to that shrinking gap in the nickest of time

And there is no way you would stake everything on a bus or truck not coming round that blind corner in ten seconds time when you’d be hung out to dry with nowhere to go?... course its not…

Yet this is what they do, and everyone sits and stands there, showing no reaction whatsoever to their obvious proximity to accelerating doom… while if anyone did this in Britain everyone would scream NUTTER… whereas here, it’s natural

And its even the norm that he spends half the time in the right lane, the wrong lane… cos he’s always itching for time angles moments gaps spots spaces … while if anyone bar a teenage boy-racer did this in Britain everyone would yell NUTTER…

So you sit there, as calm as everyone else, cos it’s the norm, its sanity, its allday everyday and so what…

… I bet you’ve had nightmares where you are at the wheel and the roads are just like this… I mean how can he expect to get in that gap… but he does expect to…and he does get in

It wouldn’t be possible for many, if any, westerners to drive on these roads

For a start, its bedlam and you just ain’t used to it, and you just ain’t ever up to this manically full-on Indian driving lark

And what’s more you can’t just tootle along at your own fair pace

Because some car or bus behind you will constantly be trying to overtake… and will be expecting you to slow down …so they can squeeze into the tiniest gap between you and the oncoming traffic… which is also slowing, but not enough that you don’t have to slow down too… or else it’ll be one big three-part total mash-up…

And in fact you have to pay attention cos that nutter behind you, apparently determined on dying in the next two minutes, he’s honking at you, and he’s weaving about and he’s got another bigger, longer, louder uber-horn for when he gets really truly deeply madly serious and he’s using the one then the other then the one then the other whilst dodging about like a particularly demented squirrel on a heavy overdose of base speed

By which I mean, what the other nutters are doing constantly concerns you as a driver… and you have to be watching what’s going on behind you

So you couldn’t drive like this in Britain… you would die soon… because no-one is accustomed to making allowances for such gungho riskiness from the other drivers

And you know what, if he wasn’t such a nutter, I wouldn’t be here now writing this, I’d be stuck in traffic way back on the highway… cos you have to admit one thing, they get there fast …


And so, HOW TO RIDE AN INDIAN BUS…Last time I was here … after a notably bonkers drive south into Amritsar…I decided that the best thing to do is …get on the bus and study the driver… note his age, his demeanour, his hair… and ask yourself, does this man exhibit any outward signs of craziness?... no he doesn’t, none of them do… and the big question you have to ask is, is this man going to die today?… so look at him hard, does he die today?… and you can only answer, no he does not…course, he doesn’t … no, he’s going to grow old and retire… he’s done this route dozens hundreds thousands of times and nothing’s happened to him yet and nothing’s going to happen to him today… and yes, he’s going to live a long time… and so, you don’t die today either…

and so, relax,


enjoy the road,

the existential vertigo of the constant near-misses,

the banyans

the greenery,

the waterways,

the hills,

the towns,

the signs,

the faces,

the saris,

the temples

and so, enjoy yourself

great stuff

… and then I get this thrill going, this vicarious thrill, where I’m kind of in the drivers head, I’m not in his, he’s in mine, and its kinda virtual reality style and I’m going, that’s it mate, go for it, you can do it, now now, foot down, down, DOWN, you can do it mate, go for it, gotta go for it, now now NOW, go for it, good stuff, great stuff, now look at it, too slow too slow, get past him, that’s it, now, now NOW, go for it, nice one my son, nice one, no worries, go for it, go for it, now now NOW!!!… cos I’m behind him, see, behind his ear and I’m with him, feeling the thrill the excitement the go-for-itness... thinking with exclamation marks, not question marks... NOW! NOW!! GO FOR IT!!! ... NICE ONE


Sunday, 20 December 2009

If you don’t want to smile and wave back at the kids who smile and wave at you then…

Perhaps you shouldn’t come to this country…

And it’s certainly a very easy way to spread some happiness

[ditto Cambodia and Lao]…

and in an earlier blog, in September, I wrote about how Canadians smile all the time

all the time

unlike Europeans

because of them Canadians all having smiling lessons from the age of five

and all being forced to attend smiling gyms… and even summer smiling camps…where all manner of threat bribery blackmail bullying and outright torture are employed to force them to smile…

where …shouting… tears…physical intimidation… pain... violence … moral arguments… pupil-teacher friend-friend parent-child relationships… even child-toy relationships… [come on son, smile…or owlie gets it]…all manner of authority… anything, even god’s mythical wrath… are dreadfully misused on children in a constant drive to get them in the unstoppable habit… and send them on into a life of bright positive Canadian smiling

[lets face it, it’s the best explanation… what have they so got to smile about… its only Canada… duhhh]

… I know where you go to, my lovelies… you go to a place where Daddy and the teachers are all singing Teddy In The Shredder… Dolly in the Dungeon… and even ...Horsey For The Horrible Death

and I also wrote how we in Europe don’t have smiling lessons, not one, ever

and how smiling doesn’t come too easily to us English

and certainly doesn’t normally come easily to me

Well I’ve made a big breakthrough

Or India has made that breakthrough for me

Because I’m always smiling

At the kids who call out smile

At the waiters smile the stallholders smile the clerks smile the bus-drivers smile the ticket sellers smile the fruit-sellers smile the woman on the seat next to us smile

The kids who wave smile

Big smiles

Wide smiles

So i'm doing it too

Because it would be mean not to

To not smile and wave at those wide-eyed friendly kids all beaming with youth and happiness

S o its...

Big smiles

Friendly English all-face iffy-teeth wide-eye round-cheek smiles

With full-handed waves

Giving my much-neglected smiling muscles a much needed workout

Rescuing them from desuetude

Because, lets face it, smiling is the easiest way to be understood

Maybe the only way to be understood

Especially when you don’t even know which language it is that you’re not understanding

And most of the Indians are Super-friendly

And they want to know you want to smile

And you want them to see you smile

So why not smile?


Traditionally English people always found Indians impossibly courteous and polite… and often obsequious… unnaturally so

And there’s no doubt they are extremely polite

But, and I may be wrong, I reckon this stems from the fact they… want you to be happy

And the Indians think that being very courteous is the best way to make you happy

there is much misunderstanding across the language and cultural barriers... there are many ways this makes communication difficult so if you simply smile alot you have the best way of achieving what you want... the happiness of the visitor
Though I may be wrong here

Friday, 18 December 2009


cannanore, as was
an amiable amble round northern kerala
gorgeous descent in bus from mananthavady
back into the heat and the even lusher green
we got lost looking for a very big ocean
and woke to a pleasant stroll round fort st angelo,
first portuguese then taken by the dutch at gunpoint
then sold to a local ruler
then grabbed by the English
we're here for theyyam
the keralan possession dance
i used to fake possession on stage, during my crazed self-exorcism AWOL poem
so it will be good to see some pros in action
and now we've seen a theyyam
two in fact
one at the railway temple here
and one an hour away, on the river at sree mutthapam
quite the most ornate gentlemen i've ever laid eyes on
a figure of red
huge intensely intricate headdress
bangles bells bracelets
bodypaint of thin stripes of yellow brown
a strange white fuzzy mustache above and below lips
was he possessed?
i doubt it
was it the real thing?
killer drumming, from arhythmic into rhythm and back again and again and out and in, driving the time forward while he, the eyefixing he, moves slowly in ritual, with a muted self-involved mini-mania

Thursday, 17 December 2009

not so much a hypochondriac as...

fascinated by all the symptoms

and the symptoms
a plethora
a panoply
a gang show
a variety show of
itches scratches bitbits and rashes
rawness soreness hoarseness and coarseness
tweaks twinges pains and aches
bites burns bumps and bangss
sniffles sneezes coughs and cuts
numbnesses sorenesses weaknesses zestlessnesses
its good for tourists to join in the local...
and i've not really been ill, bar a mild cold
and yet between us us we have so many...

and yet [uniquely?]
no runs only semi-constipation
yes, constipation
in india
... which is more of a non-event than a source of symptoms
...though certainly a source of amazement
its good to be different

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

kalpetta nontime

the main trouble with most of these places is that... i'm there
i'm always arriving at the same time as myself
wouldn't it be nice if just a few times i got there just a bit after myself?
yes it would
just a bit of freedom
i might even be pleased to see myself
aaah the waterfall
aah the lookout south to the ghats, the misty the green and the ridges of peaks
aahhh the edakal caves, the 4000 plus years engraving in the cave walls
ahhh to the easy heat, nice after the cold of ooty
and biggest ahhh of all to the view north and west over the wayanad valley, the mist and the green and the ridges of peaks
and even an ahh to the traffic jam of people up and down the metal ladders up to the caves
but no ahhh to the sweltering mess of sulthan batheri, twice in two days
and no ahhh either to the wildlife sanctuary... famous for tigers and elephants... none seen... though we did see half a possibly giant squirrel and some spotted deer... and the whole place felt fake, in places the trees were all the same age... and at no point did i think we were going to see an elephant...
and no ahh, except maybe aghhh, to the small jeep banging about on the very bumpy roads banging my head again and again into the metal struts... with me yelping cursing groaning and yelping again in the sudden pain, the wholly avoidable pain
the kind of day which starts rosy and then gradually winds you down into non-ness
priscilla, smart girl, stayed in the state-run hotel room working on draft two
while i was unintrepidly unintrepid
nice folks though, the californian couple and the english philosopher fresh from china
in fact the talking to strangers was the best part of the day
does my fat look fat in this?

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

you think you think?

you think you think?
I no longer think I think
and I beg my pardon,
I always promised myself a bit more,
of a rose garden
than this
hitless succession of misses
this thatless stream of thises
cos this
is all of me
sucking on this milkless teat
of a pleasureless breast,
crawling with painful lack of speed
down this treasureless trail
to an empty chest
you think you think?
I no longer think I think
cos I was booted up, but now I 'm on stand-by
on dim on dumb on numb on schtumm
and like a pigeon caught in a crocodile’s mouth
all i can do is blink
you think you think?
I no longer think I think
now I find its much better to shrivel and shrink
to stand and mouth and … blink
you think you think?
I no longer think I think

Monday, 14 December 2009

the thoughts of chairman me

the proverb is wrong
you can fool some of the people all of thge time
but you can't fool all of the people some of the time
in a democracy
you need only fool enough of the people enough of the time
kalapetty, arrived after dark so unsure of it as yet
but hot
after the too cold, near freezing cold of ooty
absurd day of seven hours travelling to go little more than 80 km
gorgeous roads, epic views of mountains below, forests below, lumpy plains below
constant sharp corner after sharp corner
very helpful friendly people
took one look at sulthan batheri and jumped on the next bus west
the kind of scary nutter with bloodied bandage leering over us
priscilla has a draft to finish so we will stick here at least a day
i can renew my acquaintance with the indian coffee houses, a chain of cooperatives all over india but mainly in kerala... in fact my last trip to india was, as much as anything, a tour of the Indian Coffeee Houses of the great nation...s himla and trivandrum had the best
kerala has been chiefly communist since fifties

Sunday, 13 December 2009


the condition of having two muses at once is known as...

the age of or

AGE… or your twenties last forever

I’m 47.

I turned 47 in Ottawa.

Where I’ve had my last six birthdays.

[But not my next.]

And people said to me, weren’t you 47 last year?

And I said, no I bloody wasn’t.

Last year I was 41.

And the year before that I was something like 36.

And the year before that I was something like 32.

And the year before that I was something like 29.

You know what I mean?

Lots of people know exactly what I mean.

Especially the ones over 40.

Blimey it all speeds up on you, don’t it?… My 40s aren’t far from over, and they’ve been a blink.

My 30s sped up as they went on… I’m not really sure what happened at, say, 38, or 41, or 34.

While my twenties lasted forever.

In fact that’s probably a triusm. Your 20s last forever.

[Mine did… and what’s more, it took me a very long time to uncoil myself from the post-adolescenjt torments]

And some Life Advice would be. Your 20s go on forever, so you’ve got loads of time, but you do have to do something in the end.

The other Life Advice would be, life is long.

Why did no-one ever sit down and din it into my head: LIFE IS LONG…?

Why did no-one ever say… You’re going to spend along time being the you you become, so it pays to be becoming a you you like.

And I know it’s a cliché, though I don’t know who first said it but… time does get all scrambled on you.

I ran a poetry club in North London from 94 to 99. Which seemed like decades

And I ran one in Edinburgh from 2001 to 2005, and that seemed very quick. Yet I lived there the same amount of time and it felt I was there for years and years. It was a whole lifetime.

And I lived in Stoke Newington from 86 to 88, and that seemed like ages.

And I’ve been doing Canada since 2001, and touring since 2003. And that doesn’t feel that long.

I dunno, but you know what I mean… The passage of time is all scrambled. It doesn’t make sense. I’ve had three lifetimes since I was 32. Without mentioning the one or ones before.


for its just



and me again

hauling the unwieldy

baggage and

luggage of my


with my grimy





over clutteredly catching terrain

the rickety train carriages

and wheelless rickshaws

and unfunct pantechnica

of my years

with this lumpy


dishevelled head



third day

a day too many

the cold creeping into our bones

must escape

we feel like the wall of black cloud eastwards into tamil nadu seen from doddabetta... we were of a level with its height ... and it was a wall of bad weather like none i have ever seen... people have been dying in the rains and landslips, which puts our passing clouds of grey gloom into perspective

still we had a nice stroll rather thnh trek over the hill and tea plantations... the great view invisible in the mist/ cloud... it all looking decidedly welsh... or shropshiresque... with the pale grass cropped by the sheep ...except for the toda temple of the nilgiri animists

the nilgiri are the original people here... before the british came it was only them... while now many tamils have moved up... and, what with the tea the sheep the gorse the eucalyptus the rhododendrons the conifers the tamils the tourists the anglo-indian houses the catholic churches the hindu temples the mosques the race-course the internet the arboretum the botanical gardens, we wonder how much up here is original apart from the nilgiri and the few remaining bits of forest

maybe i like india because here, in part at least, i can only be an outsider ...which is a secure thing ...when i have spent most of my life feeling like an outsider, or on the verge of being an outsider, neither in in nor out, out nor in... which has been a both a good thing and a destabilising thing...

so i never expected to belong... and here i know i never can


next stop sultan bathery, kerala, west and lower and warmer