0 8 / 0 3 / 0 6:
'g u d e m a i l a n d t h e n h s p l u m t u g'


"it was absurd, but underlying his experience of the world, at some deep precambrian stratum, was the expectation that someday -but when?- he would return to the earliest chapters of his life. it was all there -somewhere- waiting for him... this conviction was not something rational or even seriously believed, but somehow it was there, like some early, fundamental error in his understanding of geography -that, for instance, quebec lay to the west of ontario- which no amount of subsequent correction or experience could ever erase."

- from 'the amazing adventures of kavalier & clay' by michael chabon

another year another abstractly quantified measurement of time to plow through before we all have to do it all over again. o, right... sorry, 'happy new year everyone', no really, you have a good one.

though january wavered between unseasonably mild and freezing ruddy cold, and february seemed to have plumped for the latter (it's never exactly reached balmy has it?) the local ice cream van is still back, chiming its way betwixt the estates, a motorised and vaguely sinister oddity. who the fuck's buying 99s in this weather is anyone's guess.

(trumpet fanfare) sound samples have finally been added to the unsong discog page, which should allow any prospective purchasers to 'dip into my wares' before committing themselves -still not sure if this is equivalent to shooting myself in the foot or not. still, so little to lose. also included on the discog page are full-track mp3s to download free of charge to clog up your revoltingly corporate and impersonal i-pods, dazzle your friends at parties or, and you just never know, encourage you to actually buy something... or, in the event that some kind of eccentric millionaire chap stumbles across them, to have him commission a magnum opus from your humble unsinger unsongwriter here, thus making me oodles of cash... um, i mean, garnering me huge artistic respect. stranger things have happened so they say... but not much stranger.

having been irritated that the 1956 film 'the searchers' is included in so many 'best film of the whatever' lists and i'd never seen it, hostess elisabeth and myself hired it on dvd and gave it a whirl. now the reason i'd been so hesitant to watch the thing for so long is a certain mr. john wayne, whose piss-poor and embarrassing excuse for 'acting' i hate with every fibre of my being. well wayne's the star of the aforementioned film, and if it was awful acting i was after then this film paid off in spades. practically every cast member has at least one stomach churningly bad moment in the film, with mr. wayne of course leading by a clear country mile. of course some of the camera work is incredible, the scenery in monument valley is awe-inspiring and the opening shot (and repeated motif) of the bright desert landscape framed in the doorway of a darkened cabin is very nice indeed... if only the actors hadn't been allowed on set... the best thing about the dvd were the extras, one of which was a series of on set documentary shorts filmed for television, which included the adverts for 'l&m' cigarettes: "so good to your taste! so quick on the draw!" these cigarettes with their "miracle tip" were hawked to the watching american public with such enthusiasm that after watching them, hostess elisabeth suggested that perhaps she might like to start smoking... the power of advertising ladies and gentlemen. o but the girl does love an advert.

excerpt from an email from the venerable gude:
"...just like me, who as i walked up my street earlier today, was approached from behind a beaten up transit van by a diminutive antipodean woman, seeking a healthy pair of shoulders to help her jump start the wreck. naturally, i laughed, pointing out that i had the frame and bulk of a five-year old girl (which is ironic, considering what I had in my bag...), but that since she was parked, facing down a 1:8 hill, she only needed to put it in gear and take the hand-brake off. if it didn;t start that way, then no amount of shoving by me would improve the situation. of course, i didn't break my stride as i made this assessment, letting it fall behind me, so she probably thought i was just being dismissive."
i know what you're thinking... what was in his bag?! his explanation: "i was merely being facetious..." sure you were gude... sure you were... "um, hello, is that the vice squad?"

i've now had my first appointment in search of a vasectomy. firstly i was interviewed by two student doctors, a young girl asking me questions, one of which was, of course, 'do you have children?'. i answer in the negative and after making the tiniest of faces, she makes a note. she then asked if i had any questions, to which i answered that i'd done some research which confirmed that the idea that a vasectomy causes a loss in libido is a myth (more than likely perpetrated by men who don't want to have it done) but that there may well be a slight decline in the volume of ejaculate. she confirmed this and seemed impressed that i'd looked into it, which i found odd. i mean, they're my bollocks, why wouldn't i look into it? maybe others have a more laisser faire attitude to their scrotal regions... but not i. it reminds me of a story my mother told me years ago about a couple (who were friends of a friend of hers) who had, i think, one child and the wife wanted the husband to get a vasectomy. eventually he agreed and the wife phoned up my mother's friend, who was a nurse, to ask a question about the procedure. "exactly how much do they chop off the end?" she asked. unbelievable. (of course as a side note i would point out that the wife in question, once she had been informed of the realities of the procedure, should have looked upon her husband's agreement to have however many inches chopped "off the end" as a supreme and heroic self sacrifice, the romantic implications of which should at the very least excuse him from buying valentine's day cards for the rest of his natural fucking life; i think by that stage he would have given enough, don't you?). anyhoo, back to myself at the hospital... the consultant came in and the student doctor pointed at her notes, pointing more specifically at the bit where she'd written 'patient has no children'. the consultant explained that the procedure must be thought of as 'irreversible' by the patient and i agreed, "you have no children?" he asked, to which i launched into my pre-prepared defence of never having wanted any, and it wasn't like i'd never been around children, and at my age i think that... etc. to which he told me that i might still change my mind, to which i replied "well anything's possible, i might find god too" but that i seriously doubted it. then, confident that i had debated my way towards infertility, i was taken to the other side of the room and as i was unceremoniously asked to drop my trousers and underwear, a curtain was drawn to protect my modesty... against hostess elisabeth it would appear, as she was the only one not invited to ogle my particulars, both student doctors watching as the consultant squeezed and gave a gentle tug on my plums (the temptation to turn my head and cough was strong but i resisted). if the girl student doctor was still impressed, as she had been with my research, she didn't show it... i've chosen to view her reaction, or lack of reaction to my tackle as pure professionalism and leave it there. apparently three separate, what i think we'll refer to as 'intimate samples', must be taken over the course of the appointments, the first to check if my boys can swim pre-op, the second after the snip itself to check that it appears to have worked and the third sometime later to make sure it's really ceased all, let's call it 'fertile discharge'... and then i'll be home, free and spermless! i await a date for the next appointment.



it had to happen. now they're marketing anti-wrinkle cream specifically at men; although for some bizarre reason they've chosen to call it 'anti-expression', as if a lack of expression was desirable, particularly youthful or even masculine... but then i suppose maybe there's an argument for the last one.


- ahem, warning to those of a tenuous orientation, very gay site.

by way of the new(ish) band 'part chimp', i was moved to revisit (not for the first time) the back catalogue of defunct london band penthouse ( who in america were known amusingly as fifty tons of black terror), having discovered that they shared a band member -tim cedar. what an incredibly and tragically underrated band, the kind of group that to this day it actually annoys me that they're not together anymore. few i can think of have taken manic blues rock as far towards sexual mania and an unpredictable though willful shambles than penthouse. apart from great and unpredictable drumming (tim cedar), frankly filthy guitar and bass (jon free and graeme flynn -later esme macdonald), charlie finke as a lyricist ranks alongside the best of nick cave or david yow, and as a live front man, among the best i've ever witnessed. at their height i'd say they were the best live band in london. it's ok when bands reach a natural end, i'm not one of those people who wants his favourite groups to go on and on ad nauseam, but i always got the impression that after being dropped by beggars banquet, life as a band just became impossible to maintain and after one final album on a 'vanity' label they were forced to split. only a few years later guitar rock 'n' roll became the thing once again but it was just too late for penthouse. terrible fucking shame. for a penthouse obituary / history / discography etc. go to - www.ginpalace.net/penthouseindex.htm and mourn.

"he sensed that his mother had prepared her statements, they were benign, considerate, sifted, and he wondered if all good wishes and positive outlooks did not require first crafting in some fashion."

- from 'the electric michelangelo' by sarah hall

www.hiddenpassageway.com -does exactly what it says on the tin. batcave here we come...

and so i trudge through the modern world, hounded by pointless and faddish technology, bothered by trilling, chirping mobile phones at every turn, confused by how many of the things i use everyday actually work, frankly dizzied by the complexity and size of cyberspace, too old to be even considered as part of what journalists are rather glibly calling 'the myspace generation' and yet i endure; only one query nagging my progress, one question that it seems can never be answered: why won't the internet leave my penis alone?

"30% of people that don't believe in god, still pray." i tell you dear reader, we are doomed as a species. d o o m e d .

while on an emergency trip to spain after her mother had suffered a(nother) stroke (she's fine and on the mend by the way), hostess elisabeth spies and buys me a packet of chocolate covered nuts called 'conguitos', chiefly because they come wrapped in perhaps the most politically incorrect way she'd ever seen:

the official conguitos website claims that their mascot, 'the conguito' (originally meant to be from the congo perhaps?), is merely a little man covered in chocolate, and that "due to evolution and the changing times, our mascot has also evolved and slightly changed in order to adapt to the present day." and to support this claim they do now make a white chocolate version. but, all it takes is a little gander at the character's history to see that while he appears today, as above, with thumb extended, go further back and he's holding a flag, ok, no problem there i hear you say; go a little further back however and the flag is no longer a flag but a spear... and go still further back and behind him is a grass hut. now this fails to offend me, perhaps because i'm white, perhaps because i just don't offend easily, but what it doesn't fail to do is amuse me. there's something just so backward and 50s about it, so blinkered as to how it might be interpreted that it's almost endearing; it's also fucking stupid though, particularly for anyone running a business that could easily succeed outside of its home country were it not for their logo. i take the same stance with this as with gollywogs, which is that neither the gollywog nor the conguito resembles any black person i've ever met and says far more about the white people that designed them than it does about anything else. which just goes to show that when they're not flinging donkeys off church roofs the spanish are busy ignoring what most of the rest of the world thinks, which at least in theory i suppose is a good thing; but i'm guessing it won't help sales.

a dizzying illustration of eternity:


"the things hands do, the hands do things, hands do the things in life..."

another email from the venerable gude:
"star wars (revenge of the sith)- why o why do ido it to myself...? the most entertaining part of the film was when it was interupted by a telephone call from someone i had never spoken to before calling a wrong number to tell someopne other than me that i should try not to be too shocked and put the phone down, but that "marion's dead". "and her brother" too, apparently. when ipointed out that i knew no such people, but that since i'd gotten up and walked across to the phone to pick the call up, i ought to at least be told how it had occured, i was asked "are you ok? you don't sound very shocked.", to which laughed and hung up. sadly they'd caller-barred their number.
i felt somehow cheated..."

walking along the limehouse cut i see a splash in the water. thinking it's just the usual ducks diving for food i think no more of it. however when i get closer, i see that three sizable catfish, each a good foot long, are poking their heads three of four inches above the surface of the water, as if trying to escape, before splashing back down, only to repeat the process moments later. why, i couldn't say... there was something really rather odd, and therefore pleasing about the whole spectacle. answers on a postcard...

jon in japan is now to be known as 'jobless jon in japan' as he recently dropped the bombshell that he's quit his job. this can only be a good thing in my opinion, as he's been working himself towards an early and unglamorous grave for some years now; a conspiracy of machines and numbers have been stripping away his insides, peeling away his essence, bleaching his impetus, as it would anybody. as far as i can gather he's suffered from the curse of being too good at what he does. hopefully as i type this he's lounging around his minimalist japanese apartment, naked save for a pair of fluffy slippers, perhaps nipple-tassels, masumi feeding him grapes and anointing his work-weary body with exotic oils and unguents. perhaps now and then, when he rings a tiny bell at his bedside, a nubile youth will enter and lithely gyrate for his pleasure; we can but hope. viva leisure!

"the tripalium is an instrument of torture. the latin word labor means "suffering". we are unwise to forget this origin of the words "travail" and "labour"."

- raoul vaneigem

"my young men shall never work. men who work cannot dream; and wisdom comes to us in dreams."

- smohalla, founder of the dreamer religion

after years of unquenched yearn, i've finally bought myself a kilt, ostensibly for the two somewhat 'unconventional' weddings i'm to attend this year, but in reality it's just to satisfy the long-held yearn. next stop a nice summer dress? pair of sling-backs? and no, i'm not scottish (although someone did once tell my father that he'd fought and died at the battle of culloden in a previous life). being fitted for the aforementioned kilt was quite an experience, standing in a busy market, my trousers round my ankles, a (we'll call him 'extravagantly fabulous') man measuring my girth and taking down my vital statistics. mere weeks later and i have my lovely plain black kilt. now all i need is to buy the kilt pin shaped like a machine gun. no, no, really. - www.guiltykilts.com

more incursions into our building by the local children, this time leaving graffiti on a wall in the stairwell: 'white trash retard single mother in waiting 'hearts' white trash retard convicted felon in waiting', that sort of thing. still the gate remains unfixed and still the damp is a creeping menace throughout the flat, as if the building were constructed out of sponge and was leeching the water straight out of the canal... what's next, ducks copulating in the hallway? it would appear that we've been abandoned by the letting company.

"your conscience isn't there to help you, it's there to help others" - discuss.

so... a nice man in an overall rang our bell the other day to tell us that our water meter was going to have to be replaced... why you ask? because when the building was built (or as i've chosen to think of it, when the building was thrown together by a group of blind inadequates in hats as hard as they would find the question "which way is up?") the water meter had been installed, wait for it, upside down... and was therefore running backwards. unbelievable. almost genius in its ineptitude. had i actually bought the flat (at a quarter of a million fucking pounds) i would be far from happy, as the building company in turn would be far from not being impaled on something sharp and rusty.

and talking of upside down... actor damien lewis from the cover of the 14 - 20th january radio times:
there he is. no i don't know who he is or indeed what he was in that week but when viewed upside down:
he looks unnervingly like steve mcqueen... don't you think? and yet not when viewed the right way up... the man's a strange walking, acting optical illusion.

ask yourself, is this progress?:


of course there's an argument for such a drug's use in cases of ptsd but for things like rape, won't the lessening of the memory of the incident, cause victims to consider it 'less of a big deal'? isn't how 'wrong' something is judged in law, directly linked how much the victim has suffered?

crippled with sudden back pain, it turns out that hostess elisabeth is suffering from sciatica, namely the trapping of her sciatic nerve between two inflamed vertebrae; which doesn't sound like much fun to me at all. next stop, the glue factory i think. highlight of her ailment though (and doesn't every ailment need one?) has to be her anti-inflammatory tablets, upon whose enclosed literature is the word retard in bold black capitals. well it made me laugh. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sciatica)

a joke emailed from hostess elisabeth:
"man 1 - you're going the wrong way
man 2 - no i'm not
man 1 - didn't you see the arrow?
man 2 - arrow? i didn't even see the indian"

recommended: (audio) 'calcutta gas chamber' -cd- by john watermann / (comestible) yop / (visual) catfish trying to escape from the canal / (sensorial) freshly laundered bedclothes

reviled: (audio) a washing machine in the dead of night / (comestible) m&s lamb meatballs / (visual) stairwell graffiti / (sensorial) my plums in the hands of a strange man

and to finish, yet another email from mr. gude, this time dealing, in his lawyerly way, with my heathrow / t-shirt / idiocy debacle. the below is only for the genuinely interested...

"just had another giggle at your run in at heathrow...

for the record, section 5 of the public order act 1986 sets out the provisions concerning "conduct likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress... its the one that tends to be used most often at demos. a person commits the offence if he

a) uses threatening, abusive words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour, or
b) displays any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting,
within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress.

there is no requirement that anyone actually be caused harassment, alarm or distress and therefore no need for a witness to that effect. the police need only say that your conduct took place within the sight or hearing of a potential victim, although it will obviously help to prove their case if they can produce a witness. neither is there a need to show that you intended to cause the harassment, only that it was likely to be caused. this means that to a certain extent your behaviour will be judged objectively on the effect it was likely to have, rather than on the effect it actually had on any victim.

however... for the display of upsetting pictures, it has been held in court that an upsetting picture can be "insulting" within the ordinary meaning of the word (in a case where pictures of aborted fetuses were displayed to persons attending an abortion clinic). here, the prosecution must also show that you intended or were aware that your conduct might be insulting. warnings are sufficient to constitute awareness.

it is a defence to show that you had no reason to believe that there was any person within sight or hearing likely to be caused harassment etc. this is an objective test and you will be judged on what you ought to have believed rather than what you actually believed. the prosecution also has to show that you intended your words or behaviour to be threatening, insulting or abusive or were aware that they might have this effect. so if you are charged with displaying an upsetting picture under section 5, you will have a defence under this section - ie that you had no idea that the picture was threatening insulting or abusive. you also have a statutory defence that your conduct was "reasonable".
arrest and punishment.

section 5 is triable summarily only, the maximum penalty is a fine, and it is not an "arrestable offence". a constable may only arrest if:
a) a person engages in offensive conduct which a constable warns him to stop, and
b) that person engages in further offensive conduct immediately or shortly after the warning.

the constable need not be in uniform, and the arresting constable need not be the same one who issued the warning. he must warn you regarding the offensive conduct while it is actually happening and not afterwards. you can only be arrested if the further offensive conduct takes place within a short time span. the usual assumption is that if the individual is warned under section 5 and commits no further offence, then they will not be prosecuted. although this is usually the case, you can actually be prosecuted by way of a summons for just one breach of section 5."