Saturday, 30 April 2011

La Belle Dame sans Merci.

La Belle Dame sans Merci 


O, what can ail thee, knight-at-arms,
       Alone and palely loitering?
The sedge has withered from the lake,
       And no birds sing.

O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms,
       So haggard and so woe-begone?
The squirrel’s granary is full,
       And the harvest’s done.

I see a lily on thy brow,
       With anguish moist and fever-dew,
And on thy cheeks a fading rose
       Fast withereth too.

I met a lady in the meads
       Full beautiful—a faery’s child,
Her hair was long, her foot was light,
       And her eyes were wild.

I made a garland for her head,
       And bracelets too, and fragrant zone;
She looked at me as she did love,
       And made sweet moan.

I set her on my pacing steed,
       And nothing else saw all day long,
For sidelong would she bend, and sing
       A faery’s song.

She found me roots of relish sweet,
       And honey wild, and manna-dew,
And sure in language strange she said—
       ‘I love thee true’.

She took me to her elfin grot,
       And there she wept and sighed full sore,
And there I shut her wild wild eyes
       With kisses four.

And there she lullèd me asleep,
       And there I dreamed—Ah! woe betide!—
The latest dream I ever dreamt
       On the cold hill side.

I saw pale kings and princes too,
       Pale warriors, death-pale were they all;
They cried—‘La Belle Dame sans Merci
       Thee hath in thrall!’

I saw their starved lips in the gloam,
       With horrid warning gapèd wide,
And I awoke and found me here,
       On the cold hill’s side.

And this is why I sojourn here,
       Alone and palely loitering,
Though the sedge is withered from the lake,
       And no birds sing.

Friday, 29 April 2011

For two voices.

He said:
I can't sleep
Are you awake
I can't sleep
Are you awake I can't sleep
I can't sleep
I can't sleep
Are you awake I can't sleep for thinking about you.

She said:
If you were thinking about me you would let me sleep
go to sleep.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

The Royal Wedding.

I shall not be watching the thing and, beyond this statement, will not be commenting. To me Royal weddings are merely the precursor to the serious business of Royal infidelity followed by Royal divorce. All of which is fuelled by the press.

Leave the kids alone. Marriage is hard enough without the added pressure of being hounded 24 hours a day.

I shall not be writing a 'Wedding poem' either.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Poly Styrene. RIP. So sad.

This message came from Poly's team this morning:

Poly Styrene
We can confirm that the beautiful Poly Styrene, who has been a true fighter, won her battle on Monday evening to go to higher places. Love, the PS Team

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Help save the Inn on the Green.

The Inn on the Green, Portobello. W11 is threatened with imminent closure:

 writes:   "Well folks, our beloved Inn On The Green has come upon hard times. Their landlords are attempting to shut them down due to rent arrears; which The Inn have made every attempt to clear. However with the recession, followed by the local council/landlords cutting lobs and raising rents in the area, it has been a struggle. After many years of dedicated service to the community on Wednesday 13th April Inn On The Green were given 17days (until the 30th April) to "…clear the venue of all their belongings" A large group of patrons, promoters, artists and event organisers who have had the privilege of benefiting from the unique welcoming ethos of The Inn have come together. We plan to do everything in our power to delay closure by 6months so that we can have a chance to raise the money needed to save this invaluable community resource. What Can You Do? We have are having regular meetings in the venue at the moment all are welcome to attend and we will be posting them as they occur. We are also planning a protest outside of the Westway Development Trust Office (landlords), 1 Thorpe Close, London, W10 5XL - Wednesday 27th April - So far we are beginning to: - Involving Media, Print, Web, Radio - Contacting local MP's - Protest - Private Investors - Registering as a Charitable Organisation - Charitable Funding All in-put is welcome and appreciated so if you are able to make it down this evening please feel encouraged to do so, if not please do post any idea's you have... A Save IOTG Music Marathon event of music, poetry, comedy, performance art, exhibits (all of what the venue has encouraged throughout the years) is taking place from Saturday April 30th. In order to raise awareness, raise money in the short-term and boost moral. If you would like to be involved in the 24hr event please let us know. Details are posted on  Save the Inn On The Green. <3 to you all, thanks.

Ray Roughler Jones interviewing Mick Jones (no relation) at the Inn on the Green.

Loco Cabaret at the Grand Union.

Laid back.

That's the expression I was looking for. 

Loco Cabaret happens fortnightly at the Grand Union bar which is situated on the corner of Woodfield road in W9 (a two minute walk from Westbourne Park underground station) and overlooking the canal. Last night seemed like a good time to check it out. I know co-host James Simmins from past events at the Island and the Tabernacle and was curious as to what they were getting up to at this recently started residency.

I arrived early, bought a beer then sat in the garden watching the sunlight fade on the (let's be honest) turgid waters of the Grand Union canal. Flotilla's of ducks picking their way serenely through the water-borne detritus of city life added to the scene.

There was not a big crowd in the place (at one point early in the proceedings James was able to thank his audience personally and by name) but not surprising considering it was Easter Saturday during a heatwave and then suddenly beset by rain, fat meaty globs of rain which cleared the air but cleared the streets.

Laid back is what you get at Loco Cabaret, nothing pretentious or earnest, the sense that everyone involved was enjoying themselves was present and there was an interesting mix of acts:

Very good Jazz/blues guitar  from "Panama" Dave Parrett and Kalvin Zemzaris opened proceedings followed by Orson Deimel, Kosmic Troubador; who is quite frankly mad as a hatter and hilarious, Neil Anderson, the delightful Emma Lyndon-Stanford, Cuthbert 80 - rapper/singer extraordinaire and James himself with co-host Dan Antrubus. Dan along with Marty from Asian Dub foundation on bass gave us a refreshing take on 'Foxy Lady' (excellent). There was also Dave on djembe and Simon, & Christine on bass.

All in all rather akin to being at a party full of musicians and singers and the door onto the garden made smoking breaks a doddle.

The next one is on May 7th. I heartily recommend it. 

Downstairs @ The Grand Union Bar

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Murray Lachlan Young's 'Burlesque' at the Drill Hall. Now called 'The Incomers'!

Update. April 2013: Burlesque has now become 'The Incomers' and is currently touring. Click on the photo (right) for details.

I witnessed something very wonderful tonight.

In a small black lined room beneath the Drill Hall in London a cast of four, directed by Paul Jepson,  performed a read through of Murray Lachlan Young's verse play 'Burlesque'.

'For fuck's sake a read through of a verse play.' I hear you groan. Well my biddies twas a polished piece of Cornish granite slapped onto the London clay.

The plot of course was truly bonkers and all the more real for that; Murray, in order to be a great humourist, is firstly a great and attentive observer of our times... Or perhaps his times. It involved the visit by a London cokehead, Porsche driving wideboy and his hot young squeeze to old friends in rural Cornwall. It was all about power and of course the power of sex and of course that power belonged to the hot young squeeze. It however (like shakespeare) never once looked to farce to save it's bacon. I'm saying no more than that.

A verse play of this ambition could have been an awful thing, could have been bum numbingly Art house, could have been perverse. Murray's play is a delight; Playfully funny stabbed by daggers of reality, relationship truths, lies and insecurities. This was Joe Orton, Dylan Thomas and the Angry young Men on coke. I wish Ken Tynan had been here to witness it.

The players: Rory Wilton, Mary Woodvine, Jerome Wright and Kirsty Osmon were impeccably cast and did their job with skill, enthusiasm and joy.

All in all seriously good.

The development of Burlesque has only been possible through financial support from the National Lottery through Arts Council England. It needs extra funding and support now and if you love good British theatre give it a boost. Check out to find out how.

Matthew Linley, the producer deserves a namecheck too:

Friday, 15 April 2011

The Liar of Kowloon, Green tea, love and poetry.

My old friend So Su Mi, the fragrant oriental 'liar of Kowloon', dropped in today for a cup of green tea and a fish paste sandwich.

So Su Mi was the inspiration years ago for my poem 'Lying to me was the only honest thing she done'  and her habit of wearing plastic gardenias (sprayed with feminine deodorant 'to keep them fragrant') in her hair never ceased to amuse me. Whenever she visits she rifles through my notebooks for words to steal and I always count the silver when she's gone.

So Su Mi once stole my collection of dolls eyes.

So Su Mi is in love! This was the reason for her visit: 'I am in love'. She trilled as she entered the room. 'I am really in love. Really really in love'.

I gave her a chair before she had time to steal anything and poured the tea. 'Tell me about him'. I said.

She went on at length: 'He is amazing. He is not like any other man; he is handsome, he is intelligent, he does not smell, he is rich, he adores me, he is the only man I have ever felt was my equal, did I tell you he is rich....'

I allowed her to waffle on in this manner for a good half hour before interjecting with the question: 'And where did you meet him?'

'Oh we have only talked on facebook. He loves my poetry and is teaching me about the beauty of everything around me. I feel that I am on some special journey into an unknown land and he is handsome, rich, intelligent blah blah blah etc'.

'And what do you want from me So Su Mi'. I asked.

'I need some more poems to blind him with. I cannot fool him with my usual 'cut and pastes' from the Oxford book of Modern Verse. Give me some poetry'.

I handed her my Morocco bound, signed, first edition of the collected works of McGonagal having first 'bookmarked' 'The Tay Bridge Disaster'. Saying: 'Here. This should be perfect'.

She thrust the book into her faux Gucci handbag, smeared me with a sneering kiss and oozed oleogenously from my house.

She telephoned me twenty minutes ago. Telling me that it is all over: 'I hate him. He is a psycho after all. His profile picture  wasn't him and he isn't rich. He is a security guard at Tesco. I have called the police; his credit card was snatched back by the ATM when I tried to use it. He questioned my lies. He tried to make me pay for coffee and he is a liar'.

'What did he think of McGonegal'. I asked.

'Oh. I sold that shitty old book and bought some glitter'.

'Goodbye So Su Mi'. I lisped as I hung up.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

The Wellcome Collection and welcome recollection.

Why do they allow people to walk around galleries touting back-packs? The Wellcome Collection is not the foothills of the Himalayas or the Brecon Beacons even; It is a fucking gallery.

DIRT The Filthy Reality of Everyday Life (Unnecessarily clumsily laid out within their self described 'Versatile Space'. Nothing more than a laboratory maze of an exhibition, quite fitting I suppose in light of Wellcomes origins) is a celebration of dirt.

Educational I suppose for the young but to me a depressing deviation from the interesting; promulgating the myth that education must always centre on shit. To me just a deviation from the good stuff. I have no interest in poking about in stools.

The cafe was busy.

It was a chilly, rainy afternoon and a curious venue for a meeting with a woman I had not seen for 40 years. An on-line question of identity had lead to this event.

As I waited for her (would I recognise her?) My head screamed: Run, never go back, never revisit the past: That forgotten dusty cupboard on some long lost landing.

But the cafe was busy.

That she is small and blonde is all I had to go on; there will be no school uniform now, no green bowler hat to tip me off. she will have to make herself known to me.

As it was I saw her first.

What fun.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Pear cider, Yuri Gagarin and flouting the law.

To celebrate Yuri Gagarin bursting my birthday balloon all those years ago I am drinking a bottle of Magners pear cider. It is very fizzy.

In my youth this stuff was called Babycham and came in tiny nip sized bottles. I can remember bringing home as 'carry-outs' from my under-age sorties to the village pub a bottle of Babycham for my mother and a bottle of barley-wine for the old man.

It was considered infra dig (for a teenager in those days) not to flout the drinking laws in rural England. It was OK though because the pub landlord was also the village bobby and would monitor proceedings.

It was a good system, as systems go, and as good systems go... It went*. Now kids have to make do with buying bottles of Diamond White to skulkily consume on the street.

* Apologies to 'Saki' H. H. Munro.

First Orbit

Yuri Gagarin stole the limelight.

April 12th 1961 was my 6th birthday. Yuri Gagarin orbited the World for the first time ever that day. I remember it well; he stole the show.

 I also remember seeing this photograph later in the year and thinking he didn't look much like a spaceman.

Yuri Gagarin posing with his wife Valentina and daughter Jelena on the beach in Glasma, June 1960.Photo: AFP/Getty Image
At just after 0700BST, 12 April 1961, Russian, Major Yuri Alexeyevich Gagarin was fired from the Baikonur launch pad in Kazakhstan, in the space craft Vostok (East), to become the first man in space.
Major Gagarin orbited the Earth for 108 minutes travelling at more than 17,000 miles per hour (27,000 kilometres per hour) before landing at an undisclosed location.

Gagarin Died in 1968 when his MIG 15 crashed in bad weather... If only he had flown closer to the sun that day.

Sunday, 10 April 2011


She came to visit
after twenty years of not a word
but was passing
was just passing

and as passing stopped
bringing with her the rusty key
to that locked and dusty room
called memory.

filling our heads
with the contents of that room
we then took a walk
in the spring sun

I led her to the April street
lined with magnolias
where for just one week
romance blossoms

alas too late
the blowsy meaty petals blown
smearing the pavement
with disappointment

'we are too late' I said
turning back
'we should have come here earlier'
and she asked when?

'Oh twenty years ago'.

(She came to visit
after all thse years of not a word
but was passing
was just passing

and as passing stopped
for long enough
to bear witness
to a seasonal disappointment).

Friday, 8 April 2011

The Idler Academy. The school for me.

we appear to be blogging live from the Idler Academy in Westbourne Park road W11. It must be Ok, I had to pass the Cow to get here. I'm meeting a serious fellow blogger and this seemed the place to do it. I am sitting in the garden, armed with wifi, a cup of coffee and a labrador for company. If I run out of ideas there is a wall of books to peruse. Incidentally, for local readers Books can be ordered at the Idler for following day delivery; use this place, it is a refreshing change from the usual vanity bikini shops that occupy this parade of shops.

Murray Lachlan Young is delivering a lecture here next week and they have a whole bunch of other stuff lined up... Check out the website:

Will and Kate's Big Fat Gypsy Wedding

‘WILL AND KATE’S BIG FAT WEDDING © Alex and Rory Scarfe 2011, published by Simon & Schuster UK Ltd and available in all good book stores.’

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Leslie Howard: The Man Who Gave a Damn.

At the Michael Horovitz thing last night I got talking to filmmaker Tom Hamilton about a Leslie Howard documentary he has been working on for some years. he pointed me in the direction of his web-site. It is a fascinating story and well worth reading.

He writes:

When film fans today refer to Leslie Howard, the most common memory is of the ineffectual Southerner Ashley Wilkes, which he played in “Gone with the Wind”

It’s ironic that he’s forever associated with a part he fought against in a movie that he never watched. It’s equally unfortunate that his somewhat colourless and disinterested acting in that film is often assumed to be typical of his career. For Leslie Howard captivated a generation of theatre and film-goers through the 20’s and 30’s with his beautiful voice, poetic appearance and low key acting style, and his performances on film are equally compelling and mysterious today.  READ MORE

Michael Horovitz picture poetry, cock and Bottle.

                                Michael Horovitz.

I didn't know it was happening until the last minute. Tracy invited me along (Tracy is about as rock n roll as it gets in this area) so I went.

we met in the pub that was once called the Chepstow but has now been completely ruined and renamed after a sofa.

Paintings by poets are a dangerous thing. After all (one thinks) if they were good artists we would be invited to hear poems by an artist; Daubing has more value than verse. As it was we were invited to 'picture poems, bop art paintings, Collages, jazz paintry, Prints and drawings' All on show in Pembridge Road W11.

It was fun and it was totally unpretentious. Michael was charming and disarming and his work struck a chord acting as a focal point for a birthday party. I went in two minds and came home in one.

Afterwards we grabbed a pint at the Cock and Bottle; the last proper pub in Notting Hill.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Sophie Barker at Ronnie Scott's, puppies and stiletto heels.

Last night was a good one and requires a bit of Back story:

12 weeks ago a friends Jack Russell gave birth to 2 pups. the music for the event was provided by Sophie Barker; the album 'Seagull' to be released in May: ).  I'd heard the name before from her Zero7 days but had not heard any of her solo stuff.

Last night I was lucky enough to get to go to Sophie's press/invite only gig at Ronnie Scott's. I went with the Jack Russells Mistress (the puppy stuff makes sense now doesn't it). I intentionally did not listen to any of her stuff beforehand; I much prefer to hear someone live the first time, free from bias or pre-conceptions. In the cab on the way there I learned something new about stiletto heels

The room upstairs is fine for small occasions (but it turned out to be no small occasion) with the band set up under a skylight (it was early evening and still light outside) providing an odd combination of Jazz Club and daylight. Ms Jack Russell knew enough people there to make it a friendly event from the outset. A good number of Sophie's friends appeared to be there too. There was also a slightly spooky coincidental 'small world' moment for me: Long story, won't bore you with it here.

Sophie is a talented lady with a great voice, she has (in 'Seagull') produce that rare thing: An album of consistently good songs most of which she performed beautifully last night, backed by a very tight and very competent set of musicians. All in all it was a delightful surprise to hear grown up music for a change. If you ever want a demonstration of how to showcase versatility in both song-writing and performance you could do no better than to get to one of her live shows. Early on in the proceedings Sophie was momentarily distracted by a pigeon flying overhead which caused her to produce a memorable smile and set the tone for evening. Her set was too short for my liking. I left happily clutching a promo copy of her album; it will be played regularly!

All in all a joyful event.

We tried to get a tri-shaw back to Notting Hill but made do with a cab. I'll tell you about the stiletto heels another day.