Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Old Houses, New Life

The best thing about an old house is that you get to butcher insects; hoover up woodlice who are too slow to care and dish out swift caesareans to heavily pregnant spiders who set up maternity wards on my bedroom wall. The house is super though and every morning I find myself either gasping when I open the window (sailing boats, people with bad bones inching along the prom, the sight of a giant ferry sluicing its way towards Belfast) or sometimes I just forget to breathe I am so excited about what I'm seeing. After two years of starting at a magnolia plywood wall in suburbia, I find it genuinely exhilarating. The other morning I pulled back the curtains to see a big blanket of mist curving its way over the stone wall and the white cat from next door was just sitting on the wall sniffing at the mist. I thought this was marvellous! A mist sniffer. I also thought I would be molested in my sleep by a dead sailor or that the house would throw up at least a few poltreigeists as soon as I unpacked (it's the oldest inhabited house in Whitehead) but nothing at all. My soon-to-be-flatmate is spooked out by her bedroom being so near the old maid's quarters and I've lied and reassured her that it's not spooky at all. It doesn't help that she may read this blog either so for the sake of arguement let's reiterate by saying even her bedroom with its glass panel door looking onto bedrooms where servant girls were forced to give birth with apples in their mouth, isn't creepy at all. The maid's rooms are stacked full of ancient books...some are hundreds of years old, others are just collectibles of Shakespeare and other such dead morons and the dust makes you sneeze modern snot all over their leather covers. Sweet. I keep finding strange objects everytime I pull open a drawyer...old fashioned card games and tarot cards fall out, parchments with soldier's talk and old poems about drunken butlers. The sitting room is awesome: lots of light and two windows out to sea and another two out into the front walled garden. The walled garden is my favourite as it's so private and looks onto the castle, while the sanded garden out to sea looks straight onto the Ranger's Club porch and they can laugh out loud as you bend over with your big arse to get coal out of the shed at night-time. Enough to make me cry with paranoia. The most frustrating thing about the move has been NTL's outrageously bad behaviour...moving from a cabled area to a non-cabled area and having rung up for three weeks solid to make sure there'd be no fuckups with my email, they have still managed to delete my email account without notice and fuck up my week's work. I have decided not to use them again and have signed up for a 3STORE internet dongle that I can use in Whitehead and on the train on the way to work (or anywhere)....great coverage and only £7.50 per month cos I also signed up for their £15 per month (incl VAT) mobile phone option and received a spanky new white Nokia, so it's happy days and my monthly bills fall by about £60. Now there's just the small hurdle of getting BT to give me a line at the house without having to pay a hefty deposit. They tell me I've bad credit. It shouldn't matter a fuck if you offer to pay your bills by direct debit and if they continue to refuse me I will hunt out the CEO and stick a banana up the exhaust pipe of his car and poison his dog.

Thursday, 26 July 2007

Findush bit my frozen monkey

I have to hand it to the Ice Queen of Findus, the one that traverses the icy globe and freezes veg just to get away from her man, but their [relatively] new offering of Frozen Soya Beans has done it for me. Of course the mere mention of the word 'soya' to any man brings about mock childhood horror that really is unaccountable as we're not talking about Fray Bentos pies or cans of 'stewed mince' (which was really 'minced excrement' of low-lying 1970s midlands cattle with large toenails); and it ain't spinnach or tinned mushrooms either. The look of repugnance equates with the phrase "I don't swallow". When I explained - that I purchased a bag by mistake - cos Tesco are c--ts like that and get your shopping delivery wrong all the time, he was aghast. "No, keep it simple, something like a vegetable curry would be". There was no convicning him. Predictable as bacon. The bag sat in the freezer for a few months; disregarded, infrigned, jilted. Then, as part of my 'get fatter then cry' diet, I looked at the pack, fell for the marketing bumpf about lowering colestoral & being super high in Vitamin C, I started lobbing them into some cooking. They do take a few minutes more than those tiny shrivelled frozen pea yokes that look like Gulliver's Travels mini scrotums, but they came out a real treat. They are splendid and crunchy and weird. As I'm a major OCD merchant, I got super obsessed super quickly. Not only did I menu them in to the most stupid of inappropiate dishes, but once a day I'd take the packet out of the freezer and smile at them, as if I had something in common. The Marketing Minges at Findus assert "Birds Eye are experts at producing tasty, nutritious and high quality frozen vegetables so Soya Beans are a natural extension for the company. We're proud to be leading the way in introducing natural and pioneering foods that are healthy and easy-to-use." But that's no real reference, considering those fuckers ruined a lot of childhoods, but I found a new type of frozen faith. They are way more superior than peas, a bit like Alba has never been really able to stand up to Sony, and they have a superincumbent crunch a bit like nashing a beetle's back in a nightmare. They fucking rock. The best way is to boil some Seeds Of Change Organic Spinach Trotolle from Tesco (two handfuls), simmer yezer soya beans in a separate pot for a few minutes (don't steam them as they'll have the consistency of carcinomas), drain, add in with a few spinach leaves, Channel Island Extra Thick Double Cream, two spoons of pesto, warm and serve in a TV-affable bowl. It's the dog's knackers. And the green elongated poo you have the next day would put any bicycle-helmet-wearing environmentalist to shame. You will suddenly find by midday, after the shock-poo and a few emails later, you're suddenly hovering around the freezer mauling the bag and thinking up new frozen crazy lows. Trust me or die ignorant.

Floody fuck almighty

The floods are completely scary, bringing with them sandbags of fear and rivers of eh, not much hope. Having a quick goo on Google though quickly tells you that they are not a 'new' phenomenon. Back in 2003, the BBC reported flooding on a scale not seen since the disastrous autumn of 2000 - on both occasions, torrential rain and flash flooding caused nightmare conditions for thousands of homeowners across the UK - even causing a landslide which derailed a train. The UK responded by spending £390 million on flood defences in a year. Back in the mid 1990s there was further 'major' flooding in the UK, so much so that many insurance companies dropped their flood insurance component of their policies. England actually developed a special 'flood insurance' scheme back in the 1950s, after another prolonged series of major floods. A storm surge in February 1953 - from Yorkshire to the Thames Estuary - caused coastal defences to be pounded by the sea giving way to 'huge' floods. In fact, it's roughly every 50 years since time immemorial that it happens; 1950s, 1930's, 1840's, 1820's etc., etc. Forget the fact that for years in the UK rivers have not been dredged sufficiently, most ditches around the countryside were not regularly cleared and many local authorities have not maintained the drainage systems in their areas. However, I think we should leave aside the obvious for the moment, like the politicians - the flood pawns (or prawns) - and even the environmentalists (is the second half of that word 'mentalists' or is it my imagination?). The Bible nutjobs are using this as another excuse to tell us it's all our own fault. Let's get on board Noah's Ark with the Apocalypse junkies and blame it all on human sin/error/indulgence/consumerism and even masturbation. I'm not even going to give them leaway here by pasting their insane theories. If you read your book of Genesis on the bus on the way to work in the morning, you'll know that there was a worldwide catastrophic flood prior to the creation of that nifty duo Adam and Eve in their south-facing garden. My theory is that Eve went and spoilt it all by inventing the world's first sex toy - the snake (it would take another 3,000 odd years for the Rabbit to be invented), all of which condemned us to ruin. It's her fault that women earn, on average, 18% less than men. Anyhow, in the interim we were warned to pull up our socks and did we listen? Did we fuck, and here we are, on the brink of Armageddon. It's all there in Luke 21:11, the floods and so on, along with drought, famine, tsunamis, earthquakes and a new dictionary of diseases (Mad Cow Disease, SARS, Bird Flu and Ebola to name a few). "How long shall it be to the end of these wonders? A time, times and a half," says some other Bible passage or other. According to the bible bashers who are now reacting gleefully to the new bout of floods, that 'time' is a new deadline date for the end of the world: 2060. So what can you do in the meantime to develop your Noah's complex and save yourself? There's the obvious stuff like buying/building a house high up on a hill and not having children so they won't drown when the sea levels rise again in 2020 & 2030 & 2045, turning down your washing machine to 30 degrees, composting your rubbish, not coveting your neighbour's wife and buying vegetables locally. Other than that, you're fucked. As for the current floods, Browner needs to dip into his pocket and spend more on flood defences, stop dishing out planning permission for housing estates to be built on known flood prone areas, and educate Joe Bloggs on how best to protect his bricks-'n-mortar investment. Medieval Britain may have been full of barmy bastards who lobbed their poo out of windows, but back then they were savvy enough to build their houses on stilts; only the pigs and chickens were stupid enough to live underneath...

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Special K doing my noggin in...

Well, Special K the photographer is here in Belfast for his annual visit - staying at my gaff for the duration of Orangefest (yes folks, that's what the 12th has become artistically known as). My fondest memory of K's visit last year was being out in the car with him traversing the walls of Belfast that still separate Nationalist communities from Loyalist communities, and so on. Peace may be here but it's not settling as fast as concrete. To elaborate on the concrete metaphor; the walls form a protective barrier system pretty much in the same manner as when making concrete, except that while it keeps moisture and water out of a structure, it can also can trap moisture inside the concrete. While both communities still feel that the walls around Belfast are needed, the existence of them continues to keep low-level sectarianism alive. On this particular day, a wild bunch of kids on the nationalist side surrounded K's car, jumping all over it and throwing stones at the windscreen. Nice. A young girl no more than eight years of age reefs open the passenger door and shouts at me: "are you a fat hippy?", which was fantastically feral of her and blew me away. Bless. After which she began explaining her reasons for throwing stones at the "Orangees" (i.e. protestant kids on the other side of her section of wall) because they are bad and usually throw stones first. "My da says not to trust the Orangees". This is a child born after the 1994 peace deal was brokered, but it seems her family are just as intent in justifying the walls in a 'wee' mollycoddle aggressive manner to the next generation. Cute, that'll really help move things along. K recently launched a new book in New York chronicling areas around the world that erect walls and/or barriers reminiscent of Germany's Berlin Wall. His latest collection also includes 51 pictures stemming from five journeys he made to Israel and the Occupied Palestinians Territories from Autumn 2003 to January 2006. And for some reason, this is what we spend our time arguing about every time he's here. As you know by now the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a focal point of the crisis between the West and Islam, with liberal lefties fallilng over themselves to convince us that the "whole Palestinian" thing is wrong and it's all Israel's fault....all the torturous build up of violence in the Middle East stems from this small corner, and in the absence of looking any further, it's obvious the jews are to blame. Last night I suggested we watch: The War on Brtain's Jews which was aired on Monday night, presented by Littlejohn. The documentary basically covers a lot of the findings in an All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism last year that found violence, desecration of property and intimidation directed against Jews are all on the increase in Britain. Richard Littlejohn talks to victims and analysts and argues that antisemitism, once the preserve of the extreme right, now has a foothold among some Muslims and says even elements of the Left are fuelling the fire. K said the programme was "totally simplistic" and didn't cover the issues objectively and once again, veered back to the Israel/Palestine arguement to finish off his singular debate. I was too drunk to argue so sucked on a mint Baileys and secretly wished he'd break his ankle and his lens sometime soon. Maybe this is all about inherited German guilt and nothing whatsoever to do with the hotbed of political discord straddling the Middle East right now. The Palestinians refer to K as: 'Habib al-Schaab', friend of the people...and why wouldn't they as his work is totally biased in their favour. I thought the programme was brilliant, specifically Nick Cohen's comments (Observer journalist) about how it's almost 'trendy' these days to be anti-Israeli, anti-Jewish... even at "Islington dinner parties" it's a top topic that gets thrashed about over canapés. On the Indymedia website following the programme, some masterful idiot wrote: 'the pro-zionist lobby already have a vice like control on much of the world's media which is why the desparate plight of the Palestinians is allowed to continue'... This posting has been hidden because it breaches the guidelines but still it's readable and not really that hidden after all. In K's case, there's not much point reiterating the fact that Israel's barrier has, in reality, dramatically lowered the number of terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians in the central and northern regions of Israel where it's erected. His mind is staunch on the matter, but in general, I find it incredible that the mega-left are shamefacedly displaing the sort of racist behaviour they are surely meant to oppose? Or are am I missing something crucial here? Who knows. Anyway, I've told K the discussion is out of bounds this year as I'm not spending a week in my own house hopping mad in response to his potent ignornace even if he is an award winning photographer of international renown. Watch this space for updates (or details on how I was forced to bludgeon him to death with an empty lasagne dish) over the coming days. In the meantime, the loyalist bomb fires have started; bangs and farts in the skyline here. UTV showed a veritable 'wee' Wickerman type of scenario up the Shankers earlier.....a stockpile of about 300 wooden crates with a stiff scarecrow figure on top, a bit like a bizarre Christmas tree with the night sky turning burnished red and trails of snake smoke slithering around those Lidl cans of beer. Someone nearly always gets fried and someone else will get beaten up on their way home but it doesn't have the same level of fear & abhorrence of previous years. And it's all becoming that much easier to flout. K is out taking pics of it all and I told him to be careful, but he just sniggered in my face. "It's only Belfast!" he muttered, "it's not like it's the Gaza Strip or something." True K, true, but don't ever underestimate the latent madness that gripped this place way before you ever picked up a camera or tasted your first Musakhan.
UPDATE! UPDATE! UPDATE! UPDATE! K came back last night (well this morning at about 2.30am) very shook. Their cameras got reefed off them (him and a colleague) by some scuzzbuckets at a bombfire after a fight between Catholic & Protestant youths. They were chased and harassed and got into a fight before the police intervened. There you go.... it may not be the Gaza Strip here but Belfast's Geezer Strip can be just as unpredictable! You should've listened to the blow-in with the big tits K.

Sunday, 8 July 2007

Ma, me arse is bleeding

Well no, not really, I don't have a bad dose of Hematochezia [Rectal bleeding] or Melena, the passage of black, tarry stools containing digested blood; it's more to do with the barrage of heavy 14% + wines consumed on this premises last night, that gave me a pain in the arse. The head, for once, escaped unscathed. It was lover's birthday and I cooked a seafood lasagne, laddered the sitting room with cheapo Tesco Tealites and even dressed up for a change. An altogether charming intimate evening apart from geezer falling asleep and me getting way too rat-arsed on said same 14% wine. It's too fucking strong! The lighter brighter Bordeaux from my favourite region in France, that we started off with, was the wisest choice. If only I had bought three bottles of that instead. The 14% wines are obnoxious, taste like berried armpit & turn your head a tad mad... making young ladies like me shout at the Live Earth televised concert that Madonna has clocked up more air miles than Jesus (well, technically speaking Jesus is omnipresent, and with an unbounded or universal presence, his carbon footprint isn't that big) so what is she doing on stage strutting her pelvis in the name of saving Planet Earth!? Al Gore is a pain in the arse just as much as 14% wine except maybe worse, because millions of people believe his man-made climate change horror mockumentary. Actually, it was during this drunken moment that I had an inspired idea for Islamic terrorists. Why don't they blow up the polar ice caps and bring on Armageddon? That way us free-thinking Westerners who speak our minds, indulge in endless materialism and enjoy depraved sex as a leisure activity, can be sunk into a damnable, depraved, destructive, disastrous hell that we, as non-believers, deserve. The Holy Foot soldiers can wipe us (and those just-as-non-believing Polar Bears) out in one earth-shattering moment of extreme religiosity. My best ideas come to me when I'm drunk as a Beckett. Who do I write to about my idea or will I just turn up at a Mosque? There's a great opinion piece by Eoghan Harris in today's Sunday Indo that says it in a nutshell, so consummately that I won't even attempt to gist it. It's getting harder and harder for the career-soldier lefties to convince us that panicking re: the threat of Islamic fundamentalism is nothing more than a type of westernised Islamaphobia. A few months ago, I interviewed an amazing man for an article - an Imam based in Ireland - who reiterated that Ireland is under increased threat from fundamentalism and it's about time we stood up and took notice. He reiterated what MI5 already know; that Islamic terror groups are alive and thriving in Ireland - specifically linked to al-Qaeda; Egyptian Islamic Jihad, al-Gama'at al-Islamiyah, the Algerian Armed Islamic Group, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Talking to this man, I was bowled over by his intelligence, objectivity, ability to talk openly about what he has experienced in Irish Mosques (he was totally shocked to hear Irish Muslims praise 9/11 and calmly acquiesce the need for suicide bombing missions in the West). Of course, when he spoke honestly about his findings, he endured the wrath of a left-wing media who cannot handle the mere mention of 'extremism' while at the same time, many Irish Muslims were not happy with the increased attention being focussed on them in the light of his claims. He told me: "Islam has to be re-thought; extremism has infected Islam in Ireland. I came here because I was in fear of my life and thought I had left fundamentalism and hatred behind me. I could not believe my ears when I visited some of the top Mosques in Dublin…there was obvious support for suicide bombing as well as prayers and support for the likes of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi [al-Qaeda's leader in Iraq who died after an air strike in June 2006]. This man had killed Muslims." He also cited widespread espousal for Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the Egyptian born sheikh who has spoken candidly in support of suicide bombers, issued fatwas on gays and instructed Muslim men that it is OK to beat their wives. The interview both terrified and intrigued me. He also believes that thanks to the level of PC-ness in Ireland it actually allows extremists to 'hide'. "The Irish are nonchalant; they don't know much about Islam," he told me. "I soon found when I got here that there's this attitude of: 'it's cool to be anti-British, cool to be anti-Israeli, cool to be anti the war in America', but as soon as I speak out and use the word 'extremism' I am demonised. Some sections of the leftwing Irish media have also undermined me. They cannot accept that Muslims here could be a threat or that there is a genuine danger of terrorism. We have two types of extremists here. One hates the West, because the west is morally decadent but they want the money and they want to live here – many of them are on social welfare, that's the dichotomy. The other type of extremist not only hates the West but wants to destroy it. But how can they live here in that case? Extremism does not allow for cooperation or conciliation. Some of these people find it impossible to believe that not everyone in the West is bad." He also made the point that the Gardaí do not have the resources to cope with any real threat and the political establishment would rather ignore it, so it is a potentially explosive situation (no pun intended, honest). So perhaps we've every right to feel scared as fuck and to even scaremonger in the wake of attempted terrorist attacks. I'm with Eoghan Harris on this one and just in case I need to keep my wits about me when the polar ice caps get bombed by a brilliantly clever engineer/doctor/PhD student indoctrinated with irreversible hatred, drinking 14% red wine from now on is out of the question. But remember lads, blowing up the ice caps was my idea, patented from this week onwards and © to yours truly, so there's a borrower's fee if you adopt it for your own insane ends. OK?

Monday, 2 July 2007

The balm of calm

I had a lovely moment today when a person who needs their story told was subsequently informed by me that a publisher is interested in their story. This is on top of another book I am writing, so after 10 months of total lethargy and military-style avoidance; there's officially two books getting squeezed out over the next 6 months. Oh, not to mention a business that's about to be launched with a colleague and of course, an imminent MA. Serves me right for procrastinating. The person in question was so overwhelmed at the news, she had to pull in at the side of the road when I rang, because she was crying so much. It's been a difficult year and I swore I'd never write someone else's story again, but heart won out over ankles and I'm delighted to represent her. It makes this [often] shity job worthwhile. I had previously attempted to cover this way back when for a series of Features, but became so frustrated that I once locked her in my Dublin apartment and stormed off for a few solitary pints to calm down. (I'm sure that's probably a criminal offence). For years I wanted to write books; human interest stories mostly because other people's soujourns through life fascinate me. I suppose it's a fond form of Voyeurism that's easy for me to do with some amount of care. Writing for me is all about chipping in and sharing in some small way, satisfaction of actually completing something, and of course, seeing your name in print is like having your nipple licked. This is why I chose journalism as a career although it never quite worked out that way: I've now concluded that I would've made a better checkout girl or horse brusher than a newspaper person/ego/tosspot... ipsy dipsy: individual with a good wage & not a freelancer who lives in pyjamas & is soaked in uncertainty. I can't wait till it's all done and dusted and sometime in 2008 when both books are on the grimy bookshelfs, I can hang up my hocks and concentrate on fiction. The problem with fiction is that every time I try I usually end up living a story instead (journalism with engagement is another name for it, when you end up entrapped with interviewees instead of working with them. Or setting out to research a subject and suddenly becoming it. I have chameleon-like qualities) and it's always a tawdry mistake. The time has come to separate non-fiction from invention and look after myself better. That way, I might eventually make some money and get that holiday home in the Languedoc I've been salivating about since I first grew a tongue. Onwards and upwards and let no man step on my snail. PS. If anyone is travelling down to Dublin from Belfast, take note that if you book on it's only £10 return and not the usual £27 day return they charge at the ticket office, or the outrageous £62 return of first class. I was down in Dublin today to do the cop mag in Phibsboro and met a lovely woman on the train who told me about the 'special offer' the mudderfookers in the ticket office are keeping quiet about. This was after the taxi guy on the way to the station farted out his life story to me... the most memorable bit was the nervous breakdown his wife had after they woke up one night to see a spide standing at the side of their bed with a kettle full of boililng water in the 'pour' position demanding the keys to their car. And the geezer taxi driver on the way back to the station confessed that he used to be a cocaine dealer and had to have treatment in the Rutland Centre. "Every fookin note in Dublin now has coke on it...but people here are fookin' stupid and think it's cool. I used to go on €3K binges binges and not give a bollix. I loved it.". The woman on the train told me a conspiratorial story about dead babies in Donegal. When Chernobyl happened, the wind of change blew over Donegal and for a good while meat was banned for export. Now, all these years later, there's a iltany of young people with cancer and the graveyards are full of dead babies. None more so than the graveyard on the outskirts of Killybegs. Is it my face or wha?

Saturday, 30 June 2007

Extremists & Zebra Whores

Well it's been an uneventful week apart from the odd terrorist attack and two harebrained lunatrons lunging through the check-in door at Glasgow Airport shouting "Allah". Tut tut. One got par-grilled in the process which won't do him any favours when he gets to the prison gym. It can't all be to do with the profligacy of the West and sluty women wearing Gucci glasses instead of eh, those face curtains. What makes these Babylonian mud-monsters so impractically angry? There's obviously bog all chance of those government-funded left wing organisations who try so hard to be conciliatory with extremists, getting through. Of course it would be unlike me to suggest something right wing, but there are still a few unpopulated areas of the planet that could be used as deportation hubs; parts of Siberia, Borneo or deforested patches of the Amazon where crazed killers could relocate and rip one another's skin off. And as women are so hated, they wouldn't have to breed anymore and could arse around, shrieking at the sky, and eventually a meteorite might come. Back in the civilised world, I'm trying to rid the last of my work so that I can get down to business with this book as publisher person wants to rendevous in late July. After many months of lethargy and farting green lentils, I am ready to get stuck in. There's also another 'biog' book on the cards too, so I'm off the booze and trying to ditch the soap operas. Recent episodes of Eastenders might just be the antidote as Dawn, in the midst of giving birth, hollered out: "I'm guffawing like a bison", so really whichever script writer is on crack cocaine should get hauled out and forced to continue working life in a London Underground coffee kiosk. That, and the fact that Dawn's newborn baby was sitting up with its eyes open and smiling, at two days old. There has to be some accountability for paying a TV license fee. Add to this Charley from Big Brother puking into a bucket on TV tonight and I'm ready to unplug the TV for a minimum of six months and take up reading again after a break of 10 years. The weather has been delightfully shit which keeps the cider-spides in their holes even if the global warming goblins are claiming it as a coup d'état, proof that the fragility of the planet isn't just a biblical conjecture. Either way, I don't mind. Rainy nights in bed are always welcome, even moreso if I'm not alone. Today, munching my toasted tuna sambo in Clements I was deeply disturbed by a picture in the Irish Times of a hybrid horse/zebra yoke that looked too insane to be true. Apparently it was an 'unplanned' rendevous but a white horse with a zebra head made me feel markedly unsafe in the world. How can I go ahead and have a child when there's equine perverts sharing the same airspace? My mate Anita, aka 'lesbian with the lump' still hasn't been to the doctor and I found out today via an amiable transexual friend of ours that she's had stomach pains for three years and the 'lump' is spreading like a forest fire. I'm deeply disturbed by the fact that she's so in denial and/or too scared to go to a doctor, so I've invited her to Belfast for the weekend in two week's time. She thinks she's coming here for an unscrupulous weekend of cocktails (minus the cock of course), but I'm going to do her head in to drive the message through. I've already been to one close mate's funeral this year that rattled my world and I certainly don't want to see another friend submerged in clay four decades too soon. It's been a bizarre year that way in that I know or have heard of a fair few young people falling seriously ill. It makes no sense considering my parent's generation who lacked even basic nutrition throughout the war years and went on to delight in bad marriages, decades of chain smoking and guzzling fat from cow's arses, live on till they look like extras out of MJs Thriller video. On that note, I am off to the mock 4-poster for some Zzzzzzzzzzzzzs.

Thursday, 21 June 2007

Maggie's alive & well

Bloody hell, the spirit of Thatcherism is alive and well. The two-bedroom apartment the McCann family rented in Praia da Luz where Maddie was snatched from went on the market for £75,000 last week, just half its actual value. A British couple offered the asking price within days and they have already completed the deal, according to Portuguese newspapers. The UK Sun said the market rate for similar properties was £150,000. Some audacious Northerner with an eye for a nasty bargain got in there, regardless of the horrible going-ons. The same week that a Francis Bacon 'self portrait' (never quite got the concept of that, it's a bit masturbatory isn't it?) sold for €32 million smackaroonies & my landlord put the rent up by £40. Money really is a type of sickness, although a brand of malaise that makes life easier. I don't mind the landlord putting up the rent a tad though. This 3-bed house in a lovely area of Belfast is still a lot cheaper than my 1-bed 380 sq ft. apartment was in Dublin. Ownership of property no longer matters a toss to me; quality of life is what's important... waking up somewhere decent, having space to think/live, enough room for friends to stay and the odd orgy of course (I have a red canopy 4-poster bed, yum!) In a strange mood overall this week. I should oft to bed now for lusty dreams involving cling film & melted white chocolate. Will report back tomorrow on my findings. Verdant frogs need to get their beauty sleep too. PS. There's a frog & toad study group (for real) in who profess to have a genuine interest in frogs and tadpoles, so at least I know I can rest easy in the knowledge that barmy strangers care for me. They even have a dedicated Frogwatch Helpline which is more than Victim Support gets in Ireland, so it makes you think. The group reckons there's a big decline in global frog numbers related to climate changes (yawn, what else!?) and widespread atmospheric pollution. I think it's more a case that we're all fucked, whether you eat monosodium glutamate-laden cup-a-soups, have unprotected sex with 196 people in one year or holiday on a geographical fault line. Which brings me back to the beauty of going to bed and switches off for a few hours. Ribbid. Croak. Burp.

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Big Bollix

Big Brother really is a pile of yack this year, isn't it? Worse than ever before, I reckon. Young women frantically studying WAGology and celebrity tag-ons musing their minges off about the testosterone stampede than inevitably awaits them when they're released from the house. I had to laugh at Johnaton last night; intelligent capitalist geezer with brown eyes - he thinks he has the dim-witted twins sussed - that they are a shrewd marketing duo playing with the public's head. After all, they can't be that thick & at University? The twins hadn't a breeze what he was talking about when he broached their game-plan in the bathroom. They reverted to all things pink and giggled. "Genius!" he said, smiling. He really doesn't get it. Millionaires often don't.

The collective light-headedness is repetitive to the extreme. Tracey is a cool geezer-girl, Carol is at least adult even if more boring than her audition tape suggested, Laura is bright too and Johnaton is a breath of fresh air. The remnants should've been guarded from birth by trampoline-strength condoms. Did you ever hear anything 'loike' that bug-brain Brian: "I loike kinda loike going shopping en stuff", when asked what he does with his life. "I'm just loike an ordinary geezer, gettin' pissed en stuff." Rock on. Billi looks like a ghoul from the Rocky Horror Show, who pays for coconut baths and has taken the art of self-absorption to new frightening highs. And the grotesque way the new men are commodifying the totty in the house makes me gag. "There's no-one left to getta hold ov en ere", said scholar Brian.

I have to admit that it was also a culture shock when I left Pope-licking Ireland in 1988 for London. For a while I was mute and uncommunicative out of pure shock. I remember thinking, "it can't be this way, it can't be this easy?" Everything in Ireland was stiff and rigid like a Bishop's knob. There were no jobs, no prospects, no hope. In London the employment agencies were spuing down with jobs; they did exactly what it said on the tin. I took the first one that came along and just sat in silence listening to the office chat; mostly it was moans about money, new paint colours, car insurance (young people had cars!), divorce, costa holidays, sex, jewellery. There was such similitude in the national psyche that all the women came back to work after X-mass with the same present (albeit with some amount of variability): gold dolphins. Sold en masse in H. Samuel at the time I was convinced Margaret Thatcher had bugged the proletariat with these dinky gold dolphins to see what was really going on in the furtive underground of chav Britain. "Oh, you got the Dolphin earrings, gorgeous, I got loike, the loike, dolphin anklet.... and Gillian got the Dolphin necklace".

University was of course moderately different, the people were more zany, fucked up, interesting.... a Muslim mate who ran away from her four abusive brothers, a posh cider-swigging girl from Devon, a homeless Brighton girl who hadn't seen her family in six years, Richard who often slept in wheelie bins, a Vasectomy from Sheffield, a right-wing lesbian who changed her surname to 'Queen' & denounced all men including her son, etc etc etc. I had a ball, ate drugs, got seduced by a woman under a fish tank in Tottenham (tellingly, she's now a professional actress), fell in love with a Sikh man who'd been married and gay and a cocaine addict all at the same time. Life was colourful even if somewhat confusing. It was a jumble of materialism and mayhem, but compared to Ireland, it was a piss in the right direction.

Now, I thank my fluky stars I didn't stay on and have a kid there. What is accessible in terms of infrastructure, ethnicity, work, opportunity, equality, etc., is all great, but the "culture" is totally barmy. If little girls can grow up to believe that being an adjunct to a brainless footballer's cock is a career, and young men believe that going shopping in the local multiplex and shaving their balls on a Thursday night [Brian alluded to this in last night's BB episode] constitutes the modern world, bring back the Blitz, the miner's strikes & the race riots of the 1980s. Anything has to be better than this brand of barrenness?

Saturday, 9 June 2007

Bon Voyage!

Bon voyage! I am off to a corner of the Costa for some white fish & rosé wine & a cheerful book about a survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto. Lover says I better not do his head in "rabbitng" on the beach as he wants to lie there, motionless, like a forgotten turd in a motel toilet and let the sun lolly its cancerous tongue all over him. But I find sun and sand and the usual aquatic accompaniments boring after about half an hour, so will probably melt his brain big-style. Yeah!

Yesterday I braved a journey into Belfast's Primark, which is always ransacked by chavs (I know in my bones, right now, there's a tech-savvy person out there inventing a Chav-nav satellite system, some funky hand-held PDA device that shoppers can use to direct them away from the looped earring masses). I have to say there's a peculiar essence at work here, where 'mums' compete with their daughters until they both end up shaking chrome clothes racks and storming off in pouty huffs towards the door where other mothers who've just had the same experience are chain-smoking. There were a good few 'mother & daughter' duos, dressed identical, tight jeans, yuck yellow tops, shite belts & silver pumps... and the daughters were goading, saying things like, "ach, d'ye think this will suit me Ma? Ye know, with me good figure an' all?" And the mum in this case glanced down at her own body, grabbed the manky sun-dress off her daughter and said, "I think I could get into that...". This is the type of grotesque parental immaturity that fills me with dread and would make me Nilfisk a child from my fanny rather than emotionally abuse them all the way to adulthood.

The 'sundress syndrome' is usually only attributed to women who have their kids too young, before they're grown up themselves. Where do they get off? Anyway, I fear I will only be able to limp my way to the beach & back to the apartment as the hip is now TOTALLY frogged... degeneration has been as swift as a US army plane landing at Shannon without the media noticing, and I can only imagine I will be flat on my back sponging up the morphine soon. The pain is now so chronic, that even sitting down hurts like hell. Sigh. After an anger fit last week re: health & lack of wealth, I'm in post-denial mode now, realising that the entire process has to be taken on the chin again in order for the best possible long-term outcome. I am frogging myself about the next hip replacement operation & the long recovery afterwards where you smell of piss for weeks on end because you're told not to have a shower, and really, rubbing your nethers with a face cloth, achieve little. I've been there.

I registered with a doctor yesterday (after a year, tut tut) and he's sending off a referral letter to some orthopaedic people in Belfast who are great at bone stuff having fixed up lots of bullet recipients during the Paisley-Adams years. He was surprisingly thorough, wanting to know all kinds of gruesome things like smear tests and boob tests and blood tests and can you put your wee wee in this bottle for me and how much do you smoke and what is your diet like, etc. The NHS is changing. In the late 1980s GPs throughout Britain prescribed Sudafed for all ailments whether it was an infected toenail or life-threatening TB picked up in Stratford Tube Station. But aside from all that malarkey, this Tuesday will be another flight from Malaga to Madrid for the conference.

I will boot along late, as usual (this time it's flight times, not me being inept) and when all the hi-tech stuff is done, I'll race to the sauna and steam myself until all my sins explode and the Baby Jesus thinks I'm pleasant again. I fell out with my divine father frog when he insisted I be the recipient of genital warts from my first 'ever' boyfriend on Valentine's Day, 1989, and since then I haven't really taken the bearded git seriously. But obviously, like everyone else, I'll turn back religious when I'm old, just in case there's any truth in it.

I've worked out that the life cycle in general works like this: innocent & fairly harmless till about age 10 or 11, then a scheming, hormonal shithead up to about 19, then relatively amiable for a few short years when laden with curiosity & a will to learn, there's not that much room for being a bollix until the self obsession era from about age 24 to 33. Then other people suddenly become noticeable again from age 34 to 42 especially if you're looking for a life partner or are desperate to get up the duff. From 43 to 55, a ruthless mudderfrogger who will cut off at least a few family members, fire a few minions, walk over a few people's graves, ponder why you hadn't this power years ago in your 20s, then from 56 to 66, there's a period of intense philosophical debate within yourself, probably change partners or kill one off or do another University course, start lecturing to younger family members now that you're so wise and have had at least two cancer scares, superseded by the 67 to 77 stage, where you fall over a lot and talk about how much technology is hindering you, the shallowness of young people, how obnoxious middle age is, etc., and about this time, you'll let God in. Any age after that is really just getting the last word in constantly, saying "I remember" a lot, even when you don't, fear of maggots and thoughts about other planets. Well, after that, doesn't bear thinking about. Anyway, I'm off on a brief hol. Cyber-see you all when I return.

Friday, 8 June 2007

Who you calling a Nigger?

The subject tag of this blog is taken from the Channel 4 website from the 'black and Asian history' map.... an article by writer Maurice McCleod that in its own words: ''. presents a worrying picture of inter-racial relations in today's Britain. He is referring to a documentary aired by the channel in 2004 of the same title.

If Channel 4 is so offended by this word and not just sucking off the advertisers, should they not have the sordid word seared off like an unwanted tattoo from every far-flung remote corner of its company, even dusky holes in its cyber-cupboards? On that same page there is another article by Satinder Chohan (a Skikh writer) entitled: 'Whitey Blightey'... which if read over sensitively by a susceptible white person could be taken up the wrong way to imply that white people are a blight on modern day Britain. Now of course, that's quite petty as 'Blightey' is slang for England, but as a thick honky bitch, I may not have known can see how easy it is to get carried away with language.

When I lived in Britain for 7 years in the late 1980s to mid 1990s... I was several times called an "Irish bastard" (once by my boss in an insurance company for getting a task wrong but from others usually following IRA bombs and so on. The inference being that even though I was 18 and left Ireland because there was fuck all jobs, I was personally responsible for any acts of terrorism my countrymen lauded on English soil). There were all the usual jokes about Irish people being "thick" and I was lovingly called a leprechaun occasionally too, because I'm 5ft nothing. The British stereo-type of what it meant to be Irish had lingered around for so long like bad farts, that it never even occurred to me that it could be offensive.

Elsewhere on the Channel 4 website, an article by Mandy Richards entitled: Why Nigger will never be the new Black! states that 'the flagrant use of the N-word in public by both black and white people is a growing trend led mostly by young Black entertainers, Black comics use the term extensively, and references to 'nigga' and 'niggaz' permeate many rap songs.' She is responding to said same aired documentary about the controversy surrounding the 'N word', citing examples like Shazia Mirza, a British Muslim stand up artist, who uses the word 'Paki' in her act, in an attempt to strip the word of its pejorative power. Owning words by falling under their umbrella, in other words, in the same way as lesbians have patented the word 'dyke' and gay men have sabotaged 'queer'. So herein lays the golden rule. If you're not in the sub-category, you ain't got permission to use the word, and the entire concept of freedom of speech is resigned to the gully of pre-PC times.

Another good example of this is when Ali G comedian Sacha Baron Cohen's Channel 4 show, 'Borat's Television Programme', was investigated by TV watchdogs following complaints about a sketch featuring an anti-Semitic song titled 'Throw the Jew down the well'... Channel 4 quite comfortably responded by saying: "Sacha Baron Cohen's humour is ironic and actually highlights bigotry and ignorance. The irony being that Baron is himself a Jew." So be warned, if you don't fall under the umbrella, you'll get very very wet. You could find yourself up against a Big Brother-type management team that will intervene and take appropriate action if you behave in a way that it considers is unacceptable. Unacceptable behaviour includes: behaving in a way that could cause serious offence, which could mean just about anything if you want to take offence... It's all very controversial and confusing, isn't it?

The thing that I loved about living in Britain back then was that so much of the 'race stuff' was under the radar, it wasn't debated to death, and thereby triggering a type of electrified self consciousness. Despite various problems (and there were always problems) multi-cultural Britain worked because it had no choice but to, and after a while even a honky blow-in like me didn't think about 'different races' anymore. But all this PC segregation and leftie rules leaves me in a bit of a pickle. What do I do next-time a bearded fundamentalist refers to me and all my ilk as 'Kafir', a derogatory word originally used very like the origin of 'nigger' to describe those enslaved and sold by their [Muslim] captors.... its modern day meaning is 'infidel' which is basically attributed to non-believers, i.e., anyone who isn't Muslim... all other religions, the West, etc.. What are my chances making a complaint to the Commission for Racial Equality and hoping for a mutually satisfying outcome?

I am full of all kinds of inventive ideas now that could be scooped out of the TV world and used to my benefit. I may even write to Channel 4 and say that I find Father Ted extremely offensive as it depicts my race as being nut job alcoholics with zero intelligence and I am getting increasingly upset at all these 'Oirish' conjectures.

Posh Emily Parr fucked up by using the devisive 'N' word as it's now known. However, she was in no way in the same category as the monstrous Jade Goody that we used to know and no longer love... when she bullied the life out of Shilpa on celebrity BB a few months ago. She did blurt it out in a bizarre manner, I have to admit, but Charley milked the opportunity, citing immediately in her media-savvy way what it would mean to the outside world, while admitting that she wasn't taking offence from it. She then proceeded to clandestinely discuss it with the entire house and the Chinese whispers started racing. And by the way, Charley also used the word 'Nigger' in the house, so why wasn't she booted out if the word is stand-alone-offensive as Channel 4 claims? I would argue that Channel 4 whisking Emiliy out of the house, without warning, in the middle of the night, was more traumatic than brazen chain-smoker Charley taking the N-word on the chin. The Galloway-clad debate that followed was also obnoxious with lots of sociology-type people ranting about slavery, etc. The station was obviously too afraid of being told off again by Endemol & Offcom and whoever.. beacuse at the end of the day that could result in loss of revenue, the biggest most dirtiest sin of all.

If we want to blame any subdued forces, why not put it at rap's door. Emily is a big fan and maintains that her and her black mates use the N-word in a musical context all the time. Channel 4 itself showcased plenty of said-same rappers on its "cool" late-nite music shows. Likewise, they've aired many films (Pulp Fiction, To Kill a Mocking Bird, etc.) that use the word extensively. So don't forget to ring up and complain. In fact, the only person on the planet who can say absolutely anything unhindered is Michael Jackson, ex-black man but currently-white and for a decade or two, a colour in-between; if he was in the Big Brother House right now, he could've called Charley a 'nigger' and Nicki a 'Paki' and Laura a 'honky' and no-one would've been able to say or do jack-shit. Now, where did I put my umbrella or did Chancer Charley steal it on me when I wasn't looking?

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Responsible Bulimia (well, not quite!)

It pains me to update at the mo because like the Green Party, I just don't know where to start. OK, so I got the Enterprise down to that inhospitable wheelie-bin that is Dublin last week sometime, to mind the old man, and visit me old Ma.

There's a black dude on the train all the time now, staff member, and while the generally well-educated folk in the 1st class carriages pay no heed, in the cheapo carriages, the N.I. aulones look him up and down with such disdain as he mills by with his tea-trolley, that it can only make you laugh. One of them 'snapped' back her change from him so quick and with such trepidation, you'd swear he was a portico for all the HIV virions in all of Africa [in her mind] somehow destined to dive into her Tetley tea. Nice to know sectarianism will never give up the ghost.

Anyhow, I wrote house specs on the train [for a change] which meant I didn't have to sully my retina with that hellish loyalist kip: Portadown and soon enough I was sitting in an internet cafe in Phibsboro waiting on boss man from the cop magazine to give me some editing work. In a cafe close to the office I trundled through the lives, ardour & concerns of what it means to be a modern day garda and then went on the hunt for the old man. As the Mater Hospital is so near Phibsboro, I knew he'd be skulking in a pub nearby, and found him in Doyles, all lemon-curd yellow and into his 10th double whiskey of the day.

"What's going to happen to Ma?" he said, rubbing his bulgy eyes, and quickly the conversation moved to global warming being a scam, because according to my biological father, if it were actually true, our heating bills would be lower. So here we have the start of another day of scams in the life of the mentally dilapidated mad man. At the hospital, he ranted at her [again] about her brain tumour eating away at her head and causing the fall, that she got upset and had to ask him to leave. "I can't believe that lump of human excrement ever had a job", I snapped, as he left and I tried to lift her spirits a bit. "I was 8 out of 10 before he came in", she admitted, "and now I'm 2 out of 10". I know Ma, I said, but as always I feel a surge of anger too. "Promise me next time you'll be fussy & not just go for some inept geezer who happens to have a good job?" She agreed, in her next life, she will be far more wary. "I'd like to come back as a bird", she said. If you came back as sheep's shit next time 'round you wouldn't have as bad a life. But I kept my mouth shut.

It transpires that when my mother got weak in Finglas a week ago now, Father Frog held on to her, but then let her go to wave down a taxi and that's when she went on her snot and broke her ankle in two places. This is why there's so much alcoholic guilt (even more self indulgent than normal). It would be another day till she was moved into the semi-private ward, out of this 20-bed junkie bedlam. I don't hide my inverted snobbery at all - when it comes to education and hospital wards - I'm an interminable snob. And the next day, when a junkie with hepatitis and pistachio green hair that was probably blonde a decade ago was lounging all over my mother's bed asking her over and over where her wedding rings were, enough was enough... I yelled for a porter who very kindly wheeled her to the safety of St. Joseph's Ward on the other side of the hospital, compliments of her VHI policy;there was a big mutual sigh of relief.

Of course the little aulone she shares the ward with, I recognised, you can traverse Dublin all your life but as soon as you're in a cancer ward or a place where people's kidneys stop functioning, you will always spot an ex school teacher or a bus conductor who molested you when you were 12. Her ward companion is an old diabetic I knew from an incidental bus stop on my daily journey to a shite job over two decades ago. My mum had an accident in the night so I had to head into Penney's in Parnell Street and buy some spare nighties and big cotton knickers, no bother, and in Cuccini's Italian Restaurant afterwards, I made a conscious decision to puke up four of my dinners per week for the entire summer to help me lose weight.

The hips are so frogged at this stage and I simply cannot walk/exercise so there's nothing for it but to take on some responsible bulimic action so that I'm not a portly neurotic for my MA in Autumn and even more urgent, that I am not over the standard BMI to face Part II of the hip replacement that's imminent at this stage. Lover has been hinting about getting me knocked up recently, and I honestly don't think I could carry a lizard for long at the moment, never mind a sprog. I am kinda raging I didn't do this when I moved to Belfast a year ago, when I'd all the time in the world and money in the bank, etc.. Starting up a business right now and other pressing issues ahead make it as gauche as a paedophile in Disneyland, but I will take on what's ahead, regardless.

So there I was in Cuccini's, Parnell St., gazing out at the Tracksuit Catwalk, all those wonderful navy, blue, pink striped legs and zip tops... armies of young chav mothers wheeling their novice joy rider toddler sons and baby daughters who'd be fertilised before the Intercert was underway, and I wondered what the dead heroes of 1916 would think if they could see Dublin now. Would they die for pitbulls & Aldi & puddles of lumpy spit on the kerb? It crossed my mind that maybe the 'Nike tick' on the trainers bears a resemblance to the 'yes' tick on social welfare forms that gives you a free gaff for life as long as you smoke yourself to death and promise to only drink tinned lager & wear gold hoop earrings & re-produce every 16 months or so? I'm not right wing, honest.

A few hours later, the meal of fried vegetables & pasta swirls with house wine was puked up in the Jacks and I was downstairs in the sitting room listening to Father Frog rant about how Pearl Harbour was just as devastating as 9/11 and various other nuggets of psychosis befitting the terminally mentally ill, and I felt quite comfortable about the Bulimic months ahead. The idea is that I will give the food at least 3 hours to make its way from my stomach and any leftovers get thrown up until the weight starts dropping again. It's three years now since my health got bad & I've tried every sane procedure from cutting calories in half to buying gym equipment I'm not allowed use, and in the absence of not being able to walk, nothing has worked. I am not prepared to look like Friar Tuck's slut any longer, with a dodgy bob, thunder thighs and tornado tits... so three meals a week are being donated to the environment (the Greens will be pleased, if I'd left the food in packaging & not semi-processed it this way, it'd be a lot worse of a scenario).

I will log weight changes on here of course and keep you up to date with how it's going. Before I left Willow Park and despite all my misgivings about my father frog's inadequacies & how I'm supposed to be a proxy-feminist, I cooked the old codger some fish pies and a pot of chicken stew so he'd stop eating those monstrous 'tins' of Irish stew that smell like a bag of farts, as for the time being, it's best if he's kept alive… especially as he's the only one in the family with money & my mother needs a house to come home to. But pretty soon he will have to be placed ankle first on the crematorium trolley & sent to his demise & then I can cut short my career as a part-time bulimic and use this dead man's wages for a liposuction spree.

Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Pan's Labyrinth

Last night I watched Pan's Labyrinth; an award-winning 2006 Spanish-language fantasy film written and directed by Mexican film-maker Guillermo del Toro. It had been recommended to me by a good pal who's big into "foreign films" which I also love, but sometimes admit to being a bit slovenly about taking on subtitles. It's like going out on a date with someone you know is less intelligent than you. Just having to make that extra bit of effort can make you switch speedily over to docu-reality TV instead. Hate to sound like a complete idiot but you know what I mean?

Also, I'd heard that the backdrop to the story severs to post-Civil War Spain in 1944, after Francisco Franco has come into power, and feeling terminally ignorant about history after making a concerted effort never to concentrate in school… I felt intimidated. However, after an hour-long episode of Eastenders where Stacey went into meltdown about that red-pubed ugly fuck Max, and having to endure really bad storyline inputs to integrate the smoking ban into the lethargic UK psyche, I was ready for something with a bit more mega-bite. I reefed out cow blankie and ransacked a few fake-fur cushions and steadied myself for the film.

Jaysus, it was not what I expected… it was a dependable mix of Schindlers' List & Narnia pooled into one beautiful hectic mind-fuck. I'd expected cos it was a 'fairytale' something a bit more child friendly, but not so. However, it's a fascinating entirely beautiful film – I would categorise it as an anti-fairytale, the 'magic' being that it melds the horror of adult war with a child's relatable imagination in getting through it. You know the score… as a child you believed in magic (I certainly did, at times still do).

The preamble tells of Princess Moanna, daughter to the king of the underworld. She became probing about the world above and scampered to the surface, where the brightness of the sun blotted out her memories. Growing old as a human, she died, causing turmoil in her kingdom. However, the king always believed that her spirit would one day return, reincarnated in the form of another. Cut straight to a young kid with a weak pregnant mother en route to stay with a Fascist captain Vidal, her new stepfather. She meets an insect who turns out to be a fairy and while the rebels are getting cut up (badly) all around the near tranquil setting of a country army camp, she discovers a labyrinth that turns out to be her ancient father's portal to receive back the mortal soul of his long-lost daughter.

Inbetween domestic abuse, the brutal army-shenanigans of a hatchet-job fascist she agrees to carry out 'three tests' to try to get herself back to the underworld. The child, Ofelia (Ivana Baquero), is totally absorbed in her task, but her fairy tale never veers too far away from the reality of the war that is going on around her, and dealing with her sick mother. But still it thrives on the magical. There's a fat toad in a tree, a Faun who does her head in (he reminded me of a modern trade unionist), fairies that are minuscule and manipulative and a paedophile who sleeps at a table full of tempting food. Her tests align themselves so squarely with the war that's happening outside her fortified imagination that the film ends up working on two levels. The brutality of war Vs the endlessly sad optimism of a child who has no real idea how to make it through.

The filming is so wonderful that even the effortless special effects make Hollywood look like an eBay botched relic. The main fascist character, just like Hitler, and every other mad man who suffered in childhood, takes out his anger on the anti-fascist rebels he has been assigned to seek out and eliminate while stationed at a countryside mill. He doesn't give a bollix about Ofelia's mother, just his unborn son - an extenstion to his ego - but Ofelia sets out to save the day, and fails, but ends up in the Kingdom anyway.

It's an anti-fairytale because it's honest enough to acknowledge that fairytales are horseshit, but it still ends up giving you a fairytale ending while fucking up your head totally. I thought it was marvellous. Just what a malcontent requires on a Tuesday night. However, this morning I woke up and felt that bit more enchanted, hard to explain, but it has left an unusual sprinkle all about me. One of those moments where you realise, yet again, that the world is wedged with repulsion and splendour in equal measure. And that it's OK to be forever conflicted.

Thursday, 17 May 2007

This is England (the film)

I went to see Shane Meadows's new film: THIS IS ENGLAND at Queens Film Theatre in Belfast last night and it blew me clear away. I can't think of anything else today except getting back to see it again. It's totally rare for me to feel like this. It wasn't just the fantastic social relics of the 1980s that jerked me (crimped hair, cola cubes, Margaret Thatcher's stridulent whine, patterned carpets, perms, grim housing estates, etc.) the main character; a lonely 12-year-old Shaun (Thomas Turgoose, 14 in real life) is so incredible that I can honestly say I've never ever seen a performance like it in my life. If he doesn't get an award - or several - I'll be severely pissed off.

Basically, Shaun seeks solace and friendship in the company of a gang of skinheads not long after the death of his Dad in the Falklands War. It starts with horrific images of the war and newsreel footage from that time - horrific in a different sense to now as it's not all blood and guts and digital filming - more emphasis on quiet horror; squaddies smoking cigarettes while dumping dead bodies on an airfield to be flown back to English soil, and so on. The lie that was sold to them about what it means to be English, the consequential beefing up of nationalism & the National Front that followed.

The plot is basically that Combo (Stephen Graham) returns from jail secreting the stench of combative racism, which can't quite mask the whiff of something lost and very sad. He's in love with his ex-mate's> girlfriend...eventually plucks up the courage to tell her, which normally hard men don't do, apparently. "It was a horrible night," she says to him, "I was just 16 and pissed off my head". For three years in prison it's all he thought of; before his heart turned to worms. Not quite sure if he was supposed to have been abused, but he defo came from an 'absent father' household (big thing in 1980s' Britain). He knows how to exploit young minds that are looking for answers, snooping around grim England for a sense of self, you get the idea.

Of course there is violence (some of this I did find a bit 'put on'... the confrontation with the local 'Paki' shop owner, for instance, wasn't particularly real or reasonable)...but there is also a lot of accidental humour and most importantly; raw emotion. Shaun and Combo steal the show. The script is absolutely stunning; hilarious from the off but it's not that type of saccharine piss take that you so often see on British sitcoms now, even the most hard-boiled ones. Shaun manages to nab a girlfriend "way taller" than him, she's wonderfully dippy, Smell (Rosamund Hanson), who just looks crazy and talks shit, like teenagers do... Shaun gives her a sloppy wet kiss at one point in the back garden of a council house and cos he's so tiny and gorgeous and cute and real, it genuinely brings you back to that moment in your own life. She berates him for not sucking her tits; they have a bona fide conversation about his teenage concerns. He is just adorable.

There is one scene that is so first class that I know it will become legendary. They shave Shaun's head, dickie him up in a Ben Sherman shirt, some Dr Martin's boots, braces, etc. After weeks of partying, frolicking, talking, being brainwashed, getting stoned, this scene is simply the small tight-knit gang turning a corner into an alley-way and strutting along in slow motion... Shaun is angry and proud and beautiful in his crombie, Combo has an unmistakable hard-on bulging from his bleached jeans...the impact of this 6 second walk amplifies everything that shone of originality & personality in 1980s youth culture.

It moved me so much because I remember clearly from my own life how powerful the skinhead girls were, how enraged and splenetic the blokes were. I was a Mod for years throughout my teens, spent most of my time drinking with skinheads and scooterists, weekends away on scooter rallies not giving a fuck. There were no mobile phones, wanker game stations or web-based mania to distract you from teenage resolve. And just to add in another head-mash... the film that captures a young boy's grief at losing a parent is mirrored in real life as This Is England is dedicated to Shaun's real mother, Sharon, who tragically died of a terminal illness before the film was complete. She never got to see the performance of her little son's life. I left the cinema hardly able to breathe. You will not see a more powerful or provocative film this year. Trust me.

Friday, 11 May 2007

Blood Bombs & SadDAMN WHOsane

God Tesco's smoked mackerel pate with a toasted Feelgood Doctor bagel, garlic mayo, organic red onions and rocket is a culinary soothsayer just in time for the blood bombs to start falling from the pubic sky. Nice, eh? I have no class as you'll know by now from virtually all my blogs! The most annoying thing about being hormonal conjoined with shopping online is that there's no chance whatsoever for control or horse sense.

I was on a deadline earlier (interesting article, wow, from one of the first female Gardai working the streets of Dublin in the early 1960s and details of a telephone box racket with priests and prostitutes... more on this another time)... when the shopping arrived. I kinda winced at the door and thought, 'hmmm, a lot of bags?' as it's only me this weekend and the Wet Witch of course (still haven't heard what time she's arriving, if she's reading this will ye buzz me later before I get onto the wine?).

I dragged the bags in and only half unloaded as I had to send the article off at a certain time, etc. Just been downstairs and there's all kinds of bollix from chocolate nuts to cheesy frozen pies, all the stuff I am trying desperately hard to steer clear from to try to lose weight. But calories rule over sweet rationale and I know better not to argue with myself during these precious few days every month.

It's at this time that I usually send derisive emails to global spammers in reply to their litany of Viagra and other shite mails. It especially bugs me when they try to fool you by putting in a paragraph of a shite short story first in the hope that you might be stupid enough to read it before you get to the erection medication and give them a ring. I write back sick shit like: "I hope Saddam's last surviving relatives burn the fuck out of your family farm in Minnesota" and so on. The latest one is yet another gobshite trying to convince only the abjectly retarded and criminally insane that it's possible to earn £14K a week from home by only working two hours a day. I wrote back to them yesterday, hold on and I'll cut & paste it:

----- Original Message -----
From: "d burch"
Sent: Thursday, May 10, 2007 7:11 PM
Subject: Re: *** SPAM *** Contact from Earn Cash At Home Website
> Sorry, but as you looking at internet scams we feel that we could not be of
> any help to you as we have no experience of such things. Thanks anyway.
> ----- Original Message -----
> From:
> To:
> Sent: Thursday, May 10, 2007 6:25 PM
> Subject: *** SPAM *** Contact from Earn Cash At Home Website
>> Hi there,
>> I'm a journalist doing an article on internet work scams and I'm wondering
>> would it be possible to interview you about your totally outlandish claims of
>> earning £14K + per week.
>> Please feel free to contact me in return.
>> Best Wishes,
>> J

Of course, I am not writing an article, but as he's not really offering a viable work opportunity either I have zero guilt or moral amenability about making him jump. And if he tries to sue me for pasting his email, I'll saw his grandmother's head off, providing of course that she's still alive. I'd never ever harm the dead. If anyone has any cultural crusades or contract killings they want carried out, contact me at this time every month, counting between 21 and 24 days' gap from today. No project is too taxing and I offer my services for free with a bonus bag of green lentils thrown in for dog owners and very old people.

Onto a more austere note: did you catch a glimpse of the Saddam's Tribe Docu-drama charting the downfall of Saddam Hussein on C.4. last night? It was written up from interviews with his daughter Raghad who was allegedly his favourite although not so 'favourite' as to not fall prey to his pathological unwholesome need to fuck up human life. He had her hubby killed and his other daughters' too, in between gassing millions, torturing, murdering and so on. The list of grossness is too long and so over-simulated these days that we're almost immune.

Yet still, his abused daughter commented on the day of his capture: "If age is measured by anguish and sadness, I would have been 80 today. But despite this, my confidence hasn't wavered for a single day in God the almighty..". She took over his legal defence on his behalf and saw it through till the final stages, incredible in a way. Yet, what's astounding is that no matter how much grotesque detail came to light after his downfall, still the granola-eating liberals with their soya-milk swindling concern for all human life once it fits their agenda, roared and shouted about the way this lunatic was treated in jail.

The Irish left in particular are even more nauseous as they're nearly all (better not name that East London liberal intellectual rag)-reading postgrads from far-flung places like Sandycove & Dundrum. You know, those places that have been through so much on the planet. Oh I could go on, but I won't. They did the same when Madonna adopted the baby from Malawi. I laughed my hole off at all the: 'this is abuse of human rights' invective. As I said to lover over a lovely Italian meal in Edinburgh last October: "which would they fucking prefer that Madonna's new kid is chased by paparazzi or flies & cataracts.... what a choice?" And up they piped again when it came to Saddam being hanged. Yeah, he was humiliated; strictly speaking this of course, should not happen, by civilised standards and rules of war, etc. But I have to say, it didn't even stir one emotion in me.

The only thing I felt was surprise that he actually took it all quite calmly, even at the end, not like those Nazis who were hung after Nuremberg... they squealed for their Helga mothers & tried to barter with God. The lefty blockheads have been at it again in recent days following the horrific abduction in Portugal of poor little Madeleine McCann... they used it as a platform to rant about prisoners' rights and why paedophiles should be properly rehabilitated and what about parents who leave their kids, etc., so obscenely insensitive and totally veering away from the issue.

Last night's drama 'from the inside' showing just how injurious and psychotic Saddam was with his own family members, never mind his 'distant' country men and women, was a necessitous reminder of the facts. This barbaric lunatic did not deserve any pity never mind intervention from human rights organisations when justice arrived. He was an insane fucker that may not have been out of place in Babylonian times but in the modern world, his crimes were based on the sickest brutality at home and unbelievable slaughter abroad.

If marshmallow-soft lefties just took a little break from their avocado salads to imagine for one moment their precious daughters, not sitting safely in the confines of the local multi-denominational school on one of Dublin's Dart lines, but lying on a roadside seeping yellow puss after a chemical bomb the likes of which was dropped indiscriminately in Halabja in Northern Iraq in 1988... and maybe a scabby starving dog eating her eyeballs, it might be one small step towards awakening.