you must not talk about them in a serious way,”
said Orest Pastukh, an Ukrainian comic actor...
“If we all spoke seriously about war and peace,
everybody would go mad.”
Thursday 30 November 2023
you must not talk about them in a serious way,”
Wednesday 29 November 2023
Tuesday 28 November 2023
I found them crude and sentimental.
The only animated (cartoon) films that I liked
were made in Hungary and Czechoslovakia.
But here is an interesting Disney 'offshoot'.
A postcard home from a Franco prison
written and decorated by Fernando Izquierdo Montes
who was executed by firing squad in May 1943 at the age of 27.
Monday 27 November 2023
Sunday 26 November 2023
and devastate all countryside
with their incremental,
the first thought that came to me
was I can't believe that I'm one year short of 83.
I feel that I'm 12 years old
during a school holiday
with a slight pain in my knee.
*A common opening to a blues song.
Saturday 25 November 2023
is that they don't go into politics,
but join the loonies
to plan motorways on the moon
(and perhaps an opera-house)
to ensure an ever more frightening future.
Friday 24 November 2023
Thursday 23 November 2023
because it opens inwards
like windows in France
(hence no need for window-cleaners).
But it's a door,
which in most places mostly open inwards.
It is now usually called a French Door.
Wednesday 22 November 2023
Tuesday 21 November 2023
Monday 20 November 2023
"There were no restrictions on who could come into the country:
no passports or visas required, no need to prove that you had means of support. Nobody could be forced into military service.
Nobody could be jailed for saying or writing something against the establishment. Nobody got extradited on political grounds.
Freedom turned London into Europe's beachcomber, collecting refugees washed up by political change: Poles from the insurrection of 1831; Germans and Hungarians from 1848; Italians who had fought alongside Garibaldi in the 1850s and '60s; French radicals from the Commune of 1871, even France's ex-emperor Napoleon III.
Britons took pride in their country's role as 'an asylum of nations', a beacon of liberty.
Only Switzerland was so permissive, and Switzerland didn't teem with the possibilities of the world's greatest city."
~ The Dawn Watch, a biography of Joseph Conrad, by Maya Jasanoff.
How has the mighty fallen!
Sunday 19 November 2023
Who would have thought
that the American word scalawag
originated from a term for Shetland ponies
from the island of Scalloway)
via Scalag, Gaelic for servant.
There may be an influence from the word wag:
a playful and/or witty male.
Polliwog is a dialect word for tadpole,
and thus a term for a sailor
who has never crossed The Line (Equator)....
...which perhaps influenced
the now rarely-used word golliwog,
for 'a type of grotesque blackface doll'
coined by English children's book author
and illustrator Florence K. Upton in 1895.
Many kids had golliwogs when I was young.
I didn't, though I always wanted to be black.
I had a hand-made, mid-brown teddy-bear
called Dandy who had two quite different eyes,
and had belonged to my uncle Mac.
Night is for sleeping thru...away;
Lord, help me make it thru the day.
Saturday 18 November 2023
Friday 17 November 2023
I can’t watch TV / movies / without subtitles.
It’s just too hard to follow.' writes Raymond.
It's not so difficult to get subtitle files from subtitle-sites.
The only difficulty is getting ones which fit the lips on-screen.
A lot of actors, like a lot of people, mumble.
Lip-reading (especially in French) can fail you.
But people's conversation usually isn't worth hearing
and most films are bad because
most films are made in Hollywood, world capital of
loud Nothing Worth Listening To (or watching).
When you try to put the hearing-aids in the wrong ears
the panic makes you completely deaf.
But I have found that when you tell people you're deaf
they either leave you alone (which is best)
or write the Important Thing down...
though it might be a telephone number.
Phones are the worst – especially
when people mumble or speak too fast.
There are no facial expressions,
no lips to interpret, and panic can rise.
If you miss a word (such as not or don't' )
I have a sticker on my car which says
"I lip-read" (Je lis sur les lèvres)
though this doesn't stop the po-facedly gleeful
traffic-police from doing their fine job
of making you feel like a worm.
On the whole, though,
it's not so bad to be 'hard of hearing'.
The high notes are absent or faint
when I listen to music, but that's OK.
It's just my way of hearing now.
It's no worse than having poor sight
and losing your glasses.
I don't get Too Much Information.
Raymond (a poet as safe for a syllabus
as Safe Séamus) might remind me that
I could hear the Archduke Trio quite well, once...
yes, but only (as Malcolm will tell you)
by getting or grabbing a seat at the front.
I had been going deaf for a long time,
What might be worse is the shyness
that comes with even slight autism,
the stammering, an inability
to stand up and speak, to perform,
to introduce or promote myself to strangers,
to small-talk. Then there's
Saying The Wrong Thing,
and judging people by their misleading faces.
I have always skulked on the fringes of any group
more than four. Skulking is safe, as safe as shoplifting.
I should add the good news
that there is aidar, rather like gaydar,
which enables people with hearing-aids
to find each other and talk
about their hearing-aids...and maybe more.
Thursday 16 November 2023
Wednesday 15 November 2023
Thank you for the results of my DNA test.
If I send more money
could you make them show
that I have at least some
African/North African heritage ?
For seventy-seven years I have wanted to be black,
but the results show that I am entirely
of Scottish and Swedish ancestry.
I look forward to hearing from you,
Little White Tony.
Tuesday 14 November 2023
Login, password...one two three.
And they're all burned from the inside out
And they're walking around with their heads screwed on.
Господи, прости, ну и гад же ты
Ты и все твои гаджеты
Логин, пароль, один, два, три
И все уже выжжены изнутри
И ходят воцирковлённые
To add to the Israelis'
mostly self-inflicted woes:
since they returned to Palestine
the Jordan hardly flows.
Monday 13 November 2023
Sunday 12 November 2023
Saturday 11 November 2023
The British and the French commemorate
the end of the First World War
in Western Europe.
But it never ended
in 'the Middle East';
it just 'developed' through the land-grabs
of the British and the French.
Friday 10 November 2023
No path, nor romantic poet's winding stair,
just festering slope down to where
the tottering piles and pyres
and lakes of noxious slime
pooling in desert
will shortly be – and there
in due or undue course
forget forgetting, forgo forgoing,
and, staggering past the treadless tyres,
and the endless slashing, mowing,
follow the faded peach-petals (plastic)
up the sewer of night fantastic
back to the whining end of amputated time.
Old glass leaches very tiny quantities of lead,
and constant use, especially as vessels for alcohol,
could result in lead-poisoning.
Oh dear! I have been drinking wine
exclusively from antique (Georgian/Victorian)
glasses and decanters since 1973.
I wonder what the long accumulation
of nanograms of lead have done to me ?
In the same newspaper I learned that
People [like me] who live alone and never see friends or family
have a 77% higher risk of dying from any cause,
and an even higher risk of dying from heart disease or stroke, compared with those who see friends or family daily,
according to a study.
Thursday 9 November 2023
The proportion of people
who have resisted smartphones,
facebook, X (formerly twittler)
and all the other 'platforms')
is much smaller than those
who actively resisted Hitler.
Wednesday 8 November 2023
Tuesday 7 November 2023
What Du Fu* might write today
my energy has ebbed and sobbed away
my grey beard straggles towards mortality
and war is raging everywhere on earth
where are the birds ?
over half the animals have died
mountains have been cut in two
or removed completely
great gorges have been drowned
and refugees are fleeing heat and genocide
*China's greatest poet, living when Beowulf was composed,
during the T'ang period.
Note: Scholars and academics should never attempt to translate poetry;
they are way too tied, too literal, too stuck in academic mud and literary mire.
I heard by accident a famous song* by Joni Mitchell
whom I had never heard before :
trite words, boring non-tune...so I clicked
on a youTube suggestion and got this
and I thought what a world! where relatively
talentless, crude and overblown
Americans are adulated, rich and famous,
while great musicians in most other places
are unappreciated and unknown.
* 'Both sides now'
Since writing this I heard her sing My Old Man
with great musicianship (and, of course, back-up.
Monday 6 November 2023
invented by men
are mostly weaponised
When I decided I was queer (aged 39)
I was keen to enter a 'community' of men who did not like sport
or competitiveness or noisy, banal music,
or 'the gutter press' or unpleasant virility...
a community of men like my semi-autistic self.
What silly fantasy!
Now queerness has been taken over
not just by American vulgarity and vainglory
but also by the unplayful industry of sport.
The Asian Gay Games are now
making money in Hong Kong.
Maybe Qatar or even Saudi Arabia
will one day invest and make a fortune
out of promoting (if not hosting) Gay Olympics.
Sunday 5 November 2023
Saturday 4 November 2023
(almost always anti-democrats)
help each other 'maximally'.
Ghazi Hamad (leader of Hamas)
and Benjamin Netanyahu
(prime minister of Israel).
play their intoxicating,
while hundreds of thousands suffer,
and millions may yet be affected.
Autocrats and extremists
get on like a house on fire.
Friday 3 November 2023
An Edict issued by pope Nicholas V in 1452
granted the Portuguese king Alfonso V the right to
“invade, search out, capture, vanquish, and subdue
all Saracens [Muslims] and pagans whatsoever,
and other enemies of Christ wheresoever placed,
and the kingdoms, dukedoms, principalities, dominions,
possessions, and all movable and immovable goods
whatsoever held and possessed by them
and to reduce their persons to perpetual slavery”.