Tuesday 12 December 2023

English sounds like injury in Arabic

In the language I am learning like a child
who must be taught the shapes and sounds
of letters, children scream. Already, 
they are more well-versed than I 
in sounding out these shapes,
and screaming too. 

I who, from my earliest days at school, 
was punished for deficiency in cursive; I, 
whose English letters fall somewhere between
a spider-in-an-inkpot smear and a-for-apple print,
am learning a supremely calligraphic language
as hands far more practiced than mine
find their own writing sliding into scrawl
and must accept it, so those hands may yet
incise and suture with precision
after sixty-six days, most without electric light
or anaesthetic.

In the language I am learning 
the word I find most pleasing
is the name of a nation we bombed into freedom
where people are now sold as slaves. 
In this language, the words for my country
are half-rhymes for wounding and guilt. 

In the language I have grown up speaking
people quibble about what it means
to say things like 'genocide' or 'self-defence', 
or 'rules-based International order'. 
In the language I am learning, 
I cannot say these things. 
I do not, yet, know it well enough to lie.

Sunday 29 October 2023

Things I've been up to lately

 I've been feeling lately as if I haven't actually been doing much, so I decided to do this post as a way of disagreeing with my impostor syndrome about that, as much as anything. Most obviously, as you'll see above, I recorded a version of 'We know where the huntsman lives' for my YouTube channel, which you can check out above. I've also been faffing about visually, so I thought I'd document that, starting with the thumbnail image for the above video:

I seem to be using a lot of stuff from The Invisibles for image manipulation purposes lately; make of that what you will. You may recognise Miss Dwyer's sunglasses in this picture of Shadow Chancellor and plagiarist Rachel Reeves:

I've also been mocking Elon Musk, because it is fun and very easy to do: 

Another highly mockable individual is one Vincent Kennedy McMahon, particularly with the revelation this week that he hated UK crowds: 

Sometimes I just get something stuck in my head and have to make it: 

And sometimes the Guardian drops something in your lap that's so obvious you can't not do it: 

While we're on the subject of the Carbonara Kid, I was very pleased to hear a classic public safety film has been revived to warn kids of this new danger (EWOTRIAP):

I also see that Rishi Sunak has rebranded the Tory logo to better appeal to his core vote: 

Also, in terms of my own photography, I've gotten quite interested in photographing real things that look like static or interference patterns. These will probably wind up being used in future shops or video backgrounds, I imagine: 

There's a bunch of other stuff that's been going on, but is more difficult to include in a quick post like this - synth experiments, voluntary work, doing stuff at demos...expect to see more stuff about all of these things on here soon; after a little time off after finishing up Albian Dreams, I'm planning to get back into the habit of updating here more frequently. And as always, of course, if you like what I'm doing then feel free to show your appreciation by tipping me via my ko-fi page; October has been a pretty rough month for me due to an unexpected illness and some surprise bills (don't you just love those?), so any tips are super-appreciated. 

Sunday 22 October 2023


I closed my eyes
at the flash in the sky
and hoped to be killed by the blast wave

Friday 13 October 2023

We know where the Huntsman lives

We know about the author 
who likes getting off on torture
writing doorstops of smug thuggery 
to settle petty scores;

we know about her charity

enabling depravity 

from back alleys in Bucharest

to Port-au-Prince’s shores; 

we see the politicians

wink and make insinuations

to ensure your misdirection 

as, magicians of suspicion,

they hide the hand that disappears

their colleagues’ allegations;

the columnists who polish up 

once-tarnished reputations,

dressing up facilitation 

as rehabilitation, 

as they cutely euphemise

their grooming 

as ‘home-schooling’, 

call their trafficking ‘adoption’

and expect us to be fooled. 

But we see through

their find-the-lady hand-jive

and their prestidigitation.

We’re wise to their forces

and we know the fucking score.

We know where the lady is,

and we know who the groomers are,

and we know where the Huntsman lives

and we refuse to be prey anymore:

We know where the Huntsman lives. 

We’re breaking down his door. 

Friday 28 July 2023

Thoughts on the WAG and SAG-AFTRA strikes

It's interesting how much work is going on to undermine the written word today, isn't it. 

It's interesting just how much work is going on 

to undermine the written word

today. I mean right now, in sweating offices and boardrooms,

men who are paid more money than I am ever going to see

before I shuffle off this mortal coil, are talking to shady guys

like the man I once met in a Baltimore restaurant

who seemed like the epitome of charming evil, 

to try and find the dirt to turn a snitch with,

and all with the intention

of replacing professional writers - not weirdoes like me,

who will always be shouting out here at the edge of the 

boarded-up shopfronts, but people paid to write the actual words

which millions remember, mimic, maul into ubiquity

with machines with which, we are told, will outwrite

Wilder, all the while unable 

to write more than a third-form book report. 

It's absolute exhaustion. Is this why

e said the mind was wider than the sky?

To satisfy the kind of men who dined with Harvey Weinstein? 

Sunday 9 July 2023

George Osborne Is Weak


And so is everyone soiling their pants over one of the Just Stop Oil people getting him point-blank with some orange confetti. Emphasis on 'some'. Look how little that lady is throwing at him, in my little collage piece above (which is just a bit of banter, right chaps? After all, I'm not even using simunition rounds...) . Look how little hits him! If you genuinely find this terrifying then look away now, because I'm about to blow your tiny, cowardly little mind. 

That's me covered in fake blood and very real confetti after the first prop rehearsal for Shotgun Wedding back in 2015. We learned two things from that rehearsal: one, that the literally underground venue we were using wasn't really set up for a situation where gallons of sugar syrup and food colouring were being thrown around, and, two, that the blood may have looked impressive but the confetti really didn't. So going forward, we decided to bulk out the confetti with dry rice. 

The thing about having handfuls of dry rice thrown at you by people who've been whipped up into a frenzy? That isn't like having confetti lightly tumble down upon and around you. That shit hurts. 

And here's me after the last performance of the tour, at which I specifically instructed the audience to try and throw rice with sufficient force to stop me performing (they didn't in the end, but it did get pretty close). As you can see, I'm absolutely plastered with the stuff. 

A tiny bit of confetti? Don't make me laugh. Frankly, from everything I hear about Georgie 'Porgie' Osborne lately, he wants to be thankful he didn't get hit with something much stronger than novelty wedding favors. I mean, I would have turned up with a brick before I read this Thursday's Popbitch...

Monday 5 June 2023

Let me show you the tail of the scorpion...

'Capturing societies' in the Americas considered slave-taking as a mode of subsistence in its own right, but not in the usual sense of producing calories. Raiders almost invariably insisted that slaves were captured for their life force or 'vitality' - vitality which was consumed by the conquering group. - Davids Graeber & Wengrow, 'The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity'

'[Franco] created orphans by the thousand, and he ate them by the score. And he created orphanages...more like madrasahs, really. Indoctrination with lashings - take that how you will - with lashings of orthodoxy and obscurantism. The children of murdered Republicans would be brainwashed with Mariolatry and hagiology. Their teachers were sadistic brides of Christ, and predatory bridegrooms of Christ. Further, in addition to children whose parents were dead, there were children of surviving Republican parents who were stolen in order to be re-educated.' - Jonathan Meades, Franco Building: Mass Tourism

'During Argentina’s bloody dictatorship, which lasted from 1976 to 1983, military officials carried out the systematic theft of babies from political prisoners who were often executed without a trace.' - Al-Jazeera, 'Argentina identifies 131st baby kidnapped during dictatorship', 22/12/2022

'The Canadian Indian residential school system was a network of boarding schools for Indigenous peoples. The network was funded by the Canadian government's Department of Indian Affairs and administered by Christian churches. The school system was created to isolate Indigenous children from the influence of their own culture and religion in order to assimilate them into the dominant Canadian culture. Over the course of the system's more than hundred-year existence, around 150,000 children were placed in residential schools nationally. By the 1930s, about 30 percent of Indigenous children were attending residential schools. The number of school-related deaths remains unknown due to incomplete records. Estimates range from 3,200 to over 30,000...' - Wikipedia, 'Canadian Indian residential school system

'An Associated Press (AP) investigation revealed in 2017 that more than 100 United Nations (UN) peacekeepers ran a child sex ring in Haiti over a 10-year period and none were ever jailed. The report further found that over the previous 12 years, there had been almost 2,000 allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation by peacekeepers and other UN personnel around the world.' - Wikipedia, 'Child sexual abuse by UN peacekeepers

'In Australia, between 1910 and the 1970s, governments, churches and welfare bodies forcibly removed many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families. These children became known as the Stolen Generations. Their removal was sanctioned by various government policies (AIATSIS 2022a), which have left a legacy of trauma and loss that continues to affect First Nations communities, families and individuals today.' - Australia Together, 'The Stolen Generations: the forcible removal of First Nations children from their families

'In cases where adoption is in the child’s best interests, efforts should be made for the child to be adopted by a local family from his or her community and country and of origin...Exceptionally, if all prior efforts have been explored, or are not in the child’s best interests, then international adoption may be considered as an option.' - Lumos website, FAQs, 'What about adoption?'

'During World War II, around 200,000 ethnic Polish children as well as an unspecified number of children of other ethnicities were abducted from their homes and forcibly transported to Nazi Germany for purposes of forced labour, medical experimentation, or Germanization. An aim of the project was to acquire and "Germanize" children with purportedly Aryan-Nordic traits because Nazi officials believed that they were the descendants of German settlers who had emigrated to Poland. Those labelled "racially valuable" were forcibly Germanized in centres and then sent to German families and SS Home Schools.' - Wikipedia, 'Kidnapping of children by Nazi Germany'

'Oxfam failed to act on reports children were being sexually abused by its workers in Haiti in 2011...in one case, two emails...both said to be from a 13-year-old Haitian girl - alleged she and a 12-year-old friend had suffered physical abuse and other misconduct at the hands of Oxfam staff.' The Independent, 'Oxfam failed to act on reports its workers were raping girls as young as 12, damning report concludes

'Though better known for administering humanitarian aid around the world, USAID has a long history of engaging in intelligence work and meddling in the domestic politics of aid recipients. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, the agency often partnered with the CIA’s now-shuttered Office of Public Safety, a department beset by allegations that it trained foreign police in "terror and torture techniques" and encouraged official brutality, according to a 1976 Government Accountability Office report... in 1973, Congress directed USAID to phase out its public safety program — which worked with the CIA to train foreign police forces...By the time the program was closed, USAID had helped train thousands of military personnel and police officers in Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, and other countries now notorious for their treatment of political dissidents.' - Foreign Policy magazine, ' "Cuban Twitter" and Other Times USAID Pretended To Be An Intelligence Agency"

'In January 2015, Lumos began working in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western hemisphere...On 31 July 2019 we launched a project to tackle human trafficking in partnership with USAID.' - Lumos website, 'Where We Work: Haiti

Ou wè li? Ou wè ke eskòpyon an? 

Friday 2 June 2023


Not all of us
 are leaning into our lovers' 
clothed or unclothed shoulders, rolling into
and out of the curves of each other 
- but some of us are.

Not all of us 
have someone waiting
at the other side of the border,
not all of us rhyme safe and home yet
- but some of us do.

Not all of us
will fight. We do not always
find our courage at the moment when it might
be most of use
- but some of us will.

Not all of us will see the other side.
Not all of us. 
But some of us.

Wednesday 31 May 2023

Of Brexit and my breakdown - a cashed eye closes

 This Monday marked a year since the death of my mother. A year ago, it seemed unlikely I would write the preceding sentence: I had always assumed, honestly, that I would also be destroyed by my mother's passing; had always told therapists that one of the few things which kept me from taking the final step towards ending my own life was my unwillingness to inflict that level of grief on her. In a way, the rightness of that instinct was only strengthened by the raw, eviscerating grief that I felt in those first weeks following her loss. The days and nights of crying almost constantly, the shrieks and moans of real deep grief, the almost physical pain of it: how could I have inflicted this on her?

So to say that I'm still alive a year later is genuinely unexpected. In large part, that has been due to the support of my friends and family, particularly the latter. In its way, depression, which I fell heavily back into towards the end of 2022, has also been a protector: that malaise robs you of the initiative to carry out the final act even as it makes you long for it more and more powerfully. Ask a professional, and they'll tell you: the real dangerous time for suicides among depressives is when we start turning the corner, when the right pills and therapy unlock our capacity to act ahead of our capacity to make peace with the world. But the factor in keeping me alive that has been most relevant to this blog in the past year has, of course, been my writing, and in particular finishing off what became Albian Dreams, itself the third instalment of a thematic trilogy of books which, themselves, formed the culmination of a process begun in the aftermath of the two catastrophic events of 2016 - of Brexit and my breakdown. 

So it's that, mainly, that I'm going to write about here. There will be more, much more, to write about my mother (and some of you will, I hope, have noticed the sly way in which Albian Dreams concludes with a nod towards her). I have a number of ideas for things rattling around in my head at the moment and while some of the smaller ones will probably need to be pushed out first just to clear the decks, probably the main one of those projects will be, of all things, a memoir. Yes, finally, after years of creating frames to try and slip the taint of the confessional, I kind of want to tell it straight for once. 

Well, ...ish.  I can already tell, even at this nebulous stage, that the memoir is going to involve a number of major digressions, mainly involving pro wrestling and the works of Wes Anderson, with particular reference to The Darjeeling Limited, but it will mainly, just be a memoir. No autofiction gimmicks, no placing in a larger political context, no alternate realities: just me writing about being me, and particularly being the me I've been since the end of 2019, when it became apparent that one of the things I inherited from mum was the debilitating, disfiguring and humiliating skin disease that ultimately developed into the cancer that killed her. That's quite a thing to deal with, and I don't think anyone can blame me for avoiding facing it head on in favour of taking psychic revenge for Brexit and carrying out an astral hit job on the Windsors, but these things must be faced up to eventually. And they will be. 

But before we go forward, it might be worth looking back over the cycle that we've reached the end of. So that's what we're going to do in the next few entries. 2016-2023 - what were all that about? 

In the meantime, though, please enjoy this reading of 'Not In Any Way That Matters', as recorded by James Whitman for King Ink: 

Friday 19 May 2023

Dave Clark should have said to wear sunscreen

 Normally I listen to classical or ambient music when I'm writing one of these entries; today, however, I am listening to Cliff Richard declaring that he 'was born to rock and roll', a lyric which only avoids prosecution under the trades descriptions act on grounds of being so utterly unconvincing. Cliff makes this declaration at the start of the only remaining artefact of the 1986 musical Dave Clark's Time, an album of songs from the show which, for 25 years, was only available on vinyl due to Clark's famously protective approach to his masters, and distrust of CDs as a medium. And Time is, well, odd. 

In a bonus article in the ebook edition of the Davison/Baker volume of her mammoth Tardis Eruditorum series, Elizabeth Sandifer describes Time as 'a bad 80s rock opera' which 'consists of trite statements about the nature of love and warmed over New Age blather about mind over matter' or, more memorably, as 'recycled Maharishi Mahesh Yogi [spouted] from an overly expensive hydraulic platform'. That's a good description, but in my opinion if anything it's too fair to the source material. I'm just going to come out and say it: Dave Clark's Time sounds like a musical made by a cult. 

And yet, as the personnel listing on the album sleeve (reproduced in the video above) shows, this wasn't just the cult leader and half a dozen of his best mates noodling about on acoustical guitars: this was a big project. While only Richard took the stage in the actual musical (Larry Olivier's turn as a floating head was pre-recorded), for the album Clark was able to call on the assistance of the likes of Stevie Wonder, Burt Bacharach, Dionne Warwick and Freddie Mercury. The musical itself required the gutting of the Dominion Theatre in order to install the aforementioned hydraulic lift. And how did it do? Well, the fact that this article is probably the first you've heard about it might provide you with a clue. It ran for two years - which isn't nothing, sure, but is very much cutting bait in West End terms. And it has never been revived. To quote Olivier's Akash 'these facts do not inspire confidence, do they?'

But, as readers of this blog will know, I have a tendency to want to find these things out for myself. So I listened to the entire album. And, having done so, I can report that...it pretty much mostly sucks. The performers, Mercury especially, give it socks, but there isn't all that much you can do with lyrics like 'if these facts cannot be proved, the planet Earth will be removed'. The best songs in the show are the easiest to take out of context: 'In My Defence', with Mercury's vocals, becomes an anthem worthy of Queen's later albums, while 'We Are the U.F.O.', with vocals by the actor Murray Head, is a fun glam jam with an agreeably psychedelic chorus, Overall, though, the best the songs manage is not being offensively bad, though God knows the New Age bullshit about how we create our own realities skirts close enough. And how exactly this kind of Law of Attraction bobbins is supposed to achieve the diegetic purpose of exonerating the human race in its trial before the Lords of Time is never satisfactorily explained. Frankly if this is the best mankind can come up with, I'd be donning my black cap. 

Despite that, I think the show has one, somewhat ironic legacy. One of the few tracks from the show to be released as a single was, improbably, the spoken word track 'Theme from Time', in which Olivier lays the play's New Age message on the listener. Somewhat inexplicably, this track became a minor hit in Australia, peaking at number 27 in their singles chart. A spoken word track, narrated by an artist more familiar from another context, consisting largely of bland, bathetic platitudes, which becomes an improbable hit? Where have we seen that before...or should I say again

Obviously I have no hard evidence that Baz Luhrmann was thinking of Dear Larry wittering on about 'The Law of Probenation' when he found the essay that 'Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)' would be based on in his email inbox (remember when things used to spread by email?). It's just one of them weird coinkydinks. But I can prove I would never have even been thinking about the question at all if it weren't for Elizabeth Sandifer's newly relaunched Patreon, via which I acquired my copy of the book containing her essay on Time. If you're not already subscribed to it, I would highly recommend doing so: the rewards are a great deal even just in terms of Sandifer's extant material, never mind the stuff she's currently producing, like her no-holds-barred essays on the horrors of the Chibnall Era, or the exclusive subscriber-only collections like the recent ebook of her Star Wars-related essays. And it means you're at least 25% more likely to be able to work out what I'm going to write about next. Which, sometimes, is more of an idea than I have...

Sunday 7 May 2023

Epilogue: Gansevoort, 2009


‘Well, would you look at that,’ says Angel McKenna, looking up from the corner of West 13th and Washington. ‘These people really do be fucking.’

‘I know!’ Chuckles Cyn. ‘That’s the Meatpacking District for you. They try to gentrify, but folks just come and fuck against the windows.’

‘Rich folks,’ Angel sighs. ‘They’ve driven all the hookers out and made the place respectable. Apparently we’re all supposed to call it Gansevoort now?’

‘Yeah, just like they call Hell’s Kitchen Clinton. Well, for a while, at least. Until…you know…’

Angel grins. ‘It must have been a blow to Slick Willy’s confidence to realise he was real-estate poison compared to the goddam Inferno.’

‘Yeah, well, fuck him,’ says Cyn. ‘You know who would have loved this? Iain.’

Angel sighs. ‘Yeah. He sure would. This was his beat. As a writer, I mean. Not…you know. All the…other stuff.’

‘The stuff he was training you up for when we met? Albia’s little Batgirl?’

‘What is it with people and comparing me to characters from comics? At least Batgirl’s the right gender, I guess.’

‘Ah, I’m just giving you shit.’ She smirks. ‘Unless you want to make something of it?’

‘Oh what, you reckon you can still go, huh? That what you wanna do?’

She laughs. ‘Hey, you got lucky last time…’

‘Oh, that’s what you think? Well we can test that hypothesis later. Right now I’m hungry.’

Cyn nods. ‘If you want a blast from the past, the Hellfire’s a bougie restaurant now. We can eat fillet mignon and look at the wall I bashed your head against that time.’

Angel shakes her head. ‘I’m not one for nostalgia. Especially for concussions.’

‘I did not concuss you!’ 

‘Any blow to the head is a concussion, it’s the severity that matters.’

‘Okay then, I did not concuss you severely.’

‘Whoa, sounds kinda like you’re dismissing my lived experience there Cyn.’

Now it’s Cyn’s head shaking. ‘Oh fuck you - ’

‘I’m just giving you shit,’ Angel smirks. ‘How about Hector’s? They’re open til ten.’

Once they’re sat down, tucking into sandwiches, Cyn asks. ‘So. Ten years, huh?’

‘Yeah. I still remember the morning I found out. I’d been back in Washington - the original and best -’ Cyn flips her the bird ‘- and so I slept at my parents. I came down about ten in the morning, went to make some coffee, my mum comes into the kitchen and says Did you hear King Charlie died in a chip pan fire?’

Cyn laughs. ‘So stupid…’

‘And I’m like Good set-up, what’s the punchline? And she goes no,  there is no punchline, it’s the news. I was gobsmacked. Especially because I’d sent the RI, through Iain, a detailed proposal for how we could take out the fucker. I looked at maps of the island, the old Nazi fortifications and alterations to Mont Orgeuil…I worked out exactly where you’d need to plot up to put one right through the old nonce’s head at his moment of crowning glory. And then Iain’s like current thinking is such action would be needlessly inflammatory. So of course one of the first things I did after seeing the news was ask if they’d already had their own plan going and this was it…’


‘Well, you know Iain and his poker face. I never got much beyond neither confirm nor deny. For what it’s worth though, I don’t think that it was us. Who knows what it was? Nostalgia? Pique? Whatever - Chuckie Seven Eggs decides he can cook chips. And didn’t remember the safety films…’

‘Maybe one of your people put the thought in his head…’

‘What, someone from Dee Division? Maybe. I’ve never been one for that stuff, though. I can’t be arsed fucking with rituals. I gotta tussle. As you know…’

Cyn smiles slyly. ‘Really? Oh, I never would’ve guessed…’

‘Yeah, well, you know, maybe it was a Dee Division joint. Outrageous success if so, mind. Which, of course, they can never take credit for, what with them not officially existing and all.’

‘Well, officially you’re just a poet.’

‘True. Though I am writing a memoir now.’


‘Well, turning one over. Truth is I feel kinda burned out on poems. Hell, I felt that way ten years ago. So much of what I wrote was written out of vitriol against the fucking Windsors and then, after Jersey, they just…petered out, really. Relinquished their titles, became like those Austro-Hungarian relics you see. Or just became citizens, like Harry.’

‘Ten years on fumes? That must have been rough.’

‘Ah, stuff came up that I got poems out of. But the big target, the Great Satan if you want to use a needlessly inflammatory term, it wasn’t there anymore. I think my work fell off a bit.’

‘Really? A Guttersnipe’s Talent won awards…’

‘Set not thy sweet heart on proud array. Awards make no difference when you feel like a fraud.’

‘A fraud?’

‘I’m exaggerating. But you know, I feel like I’m at some kind of impasse…’

‘Well, I’m-a-pass out if I don’t go to the bathroom. If the waitress comes by, order some more fries, will ya? I still feel kinda peckish.’

‘Okay. Will do.’

‘Oh yeah - speaking of fries, did you see the news last night? Apparently they’re working on some kind of machine that’ll use much less oil cooking them. You know, health food stuff.’

‘Well, fancy that.’

‘Yep. Hey, if those things had been around in ‘99, maybe Charles wouldn’t have caught fire and you’d have got to snipe him after all! Anyway, gotta pee. See ya in a few!’

As Cynnamon heads to the bathroom, Angel rubs her chin and stares a thousand yards ahead. She doesn’t catch the waitress. But, after a few minutes, she grabs a handful of napkins and pulls out a pen.

Saturday 6 May 2023

A Midnight Feast

Yes, he’s still up. But how is he supposed to feel? It was humiliating. The whole thing. He should have been processing down the Mall, preceded by a display of military might, not making the short walk from the Castle to the Hermitage, jeered at by these ghastly indigenes, inbred, not even bloody French, pressing against the police cordon or volleying dross from their boats…

He hates it here. He hates the smaller roads, the smaller life; hates that even in Grouville the exiled faithful hold their kids when he’s around them. How can it be evil? The touch of a King is a blessing. They should be honoured!

He hates watching the news, seeing their grotesque ‘DeCoronation’ unfold, the mass parade to Westminster, the Service of Thanksgiving for Deliverance. Deliverance! Giving away all the jewels they hadn’t yet returned, and breaking down the Royal Regalia. His! HIS! HIS Regalia! They have no right. They call them stolen. Stolen! They were given by a grateful people, as a token of their love, like Uncle Louis’ sweet brown boys in India. They sneer at Louis now. They aren’t grateful now, these people, these Albians. Something got into them. He blames council housing, pop music, modern buildings, poetry that dwells on filth and gossip and political envy and does nothing to ennoble the soul of the reader…He fulminates against them all in his weekly broadcasts, for all the good it does. He knows his pronouncements are mocked in the Albian press, along with lurid speculation on his family dynamics. They compare his dear boys to monstrous catamites from science fiction fantasies. How horrid! How dare they? Don’t they know he is the King? Is. He doesn’t become King after the Anointing with Chrism, he became King when his mother died. Hence vivat

Oh, he wishes for the Scholars. The choir from La Preference are lovely kids, of course, delightful, but not up to Hubert Parry. And a brass band instead of the organ? As if he were some miner? It’s insulting. How dare they reduce him to this? 

And the guests…all those washed-up remnants of old European monarchies, diminished or still spinning harebrained schemes, lending their imprimatur to get-rich-quick schemes, far right agitation, or what-have-you - are they his future? Is that what he is destined to become? They killed Sir James, they blew up Louis, but some days he feels like they got off easy, went out fast and noisy, not this death by a thousand cuts of cloth. Even Andrew’s American friends have stayed away. Some ‘special relationship’! Still, the Americans have their own situation, ever since the Albians played hardball, hung out a bit of what they dredged up from the private files and threatened to leak more unless the Yanks pulled out their nukes and didn’t treat us as an airstrip. They were supposed to be Utopian idealists. They weren’t supposed to learn the ropes so fast. Those damn Intelligencers…

It’s late now. Most of the servants are asleep. But he doesn’t feel like coddled eggs now anyway. He wants…what is it the people eat? One night, he remembers sitting up late with Sir James, cooking as a very special treat, young Mr Windsor, frying bits…chunks…chips of potato in bubbling fat…Chips! That’s what they called them. So coarse. So barbarian. But that’s what he wants now. Chips and vinegar. He can cook that. They call him helpless and pampered in their papers and web pages but he can do that, he remembers watching Sir James, being told how long to leave the spuds in. Spuds! Delightful word. 

He sets the pan heating as he peels and chops the spuds. If they could see him now, those scoffers! Not like Diana, that bitch, creeping into the kitchen just to stuff her face with cake, a self-reliant man, unbowed by the humiliation they have forced upon him. A King! A true King, deep down in the soul, distinguished by a birthright they can never take away. Let this bubbling chip pan be to him as Robert Bruce’s spider! Here begins - 

A whoooooosh. The fat is burning! That’s no problem though. The Sovereign need have no fear of fire. He fills another pan with water, then swings it like a tennis racket. 

Game. Set. Match. 

‘Maybe Savile should have done fire safety after all, not seatbelts.’ - Angel McKenna,  ‘Good Morning Albia’, 02/5/1999

Monday 1 May 2023

A Birthright of Distinction

I walked your coronation route today, Charles: not
the one you’ll have to step, a few dozen guests and
jeering Jèrriais watching on boats and up the incline. 
I walked on the red carpet that your Cinderella carriage
was supposed to process down. I walked with crowds
of absolutely ordinary Albians, and every one deserved
to walk that ritual pathway more than you, because

it wasn’t mice that you turned into footmen
but lads eager to advance, some all too keen to
exercise the blindness you expect from those who serve you,
to cook a hebdomad of eggs each breakfast time
and claim, straight-faced, that actually
you just like one egg, coddled, and you know what Lenin 
said. And they maintain that poker face because

you like them coddled: but we don’t mean eggs.
You like them smart, and proper, not necessarily
in uniform, as Louis did, but clean and cute, the way
you like to think you were before you went to Gordonstoun
and got worked over in the Bash Camp way. You learned
from Louis, and your best friend, Mr Savile,
that men like you deserve the crowns and coaches

and the exercise of uncommon prerogatives
in caravan or stateroom, by a birthright of distinction
from the herd, a right inherited or seized but most importantly
enjoyed: the right of Lordly Ones to choose a lucky morsel
from the crowd. How easy do you come by them
in Jersey, Charles? I understand that causeway
keeps you safe, but we both know you’re under

siege there. I don’t see you going masked, in deference
to local custom, though even in the camps
they watch their kids when you come visiting. 
Are you as skilled at reading eyes as Andrew’s 
Yankee friend, to find the hunger that regards a child
as fungible? I doubt that, Charles. I worry for your boys. 

Friday 21 April 2023

The Black Spider at Bay: A Claustrophobic Castle

'English go home': resentment of the Windsors may be a factor in the recent attack on Grouville Marsh Resettlement Camp

Someone in St Helier, you suspect, is kicking themselves right now - that's if they haven't already been locked up in La Moye under prerogative powers or, as the less respectful locals have termed the return of direct 'Royal' rule to the island of Jersey since the Windsors' exile there, 'Charlie's peepee'. The self-styled 'King Across the Water' is said to be fuming at reports that the secret, paper and courier-based communications network used by the Windsors to keep in touch with sympathetic Fifth Columnists in the Albian Republics has been penetrated, leading to the release of a new tranche of Black Spider Memos - and what a tranche it is! 

Whereas the previous BSMs, released in the wake of the Liberation of London, were written by Windsor from a position of relative power, the newly released documents show a much diminished man, pleading with supporters for assistance and, especially, bemoaning the accommodations at Elizabeth Castle, the 16th Century fortification which has, since the Windsors' Great Retreat, served as the residence of not just Charles, his self-styled Queen Camilla, and his sons Feyd Rautha and the Beast Rabban - sorry, William and Harry - but also the entire Windsor clan, many of whom, it is now clear, are chafing from such close proximity to relatives they cannot stand. While Charles' mother, Elizabeth Windsor, may have kept the peace to some extent following the original Retreat, her death in 1995 has left Charles in the position of mediator between his fractious relatives - something which, it's plain to see, he does not excel at. 

As bad as refereeing the ongoing sniping between his brothers Edward and Andrew may be, however, it's clear from many of the memos that Charles' biggest concern is not his family, but the people of his adopted island. Some on Jersey despise the Windsors because they are seen as figureheads for the hated English immigrant community, while others are angered by revelations from the UAR about the Windsors' criminal activities - but whatever its motivation, public resentment of the Windsors' presence has grown so great that Charles has become increasingly paranoid about it, largely refusing to emerge from the interior of his new abode, and constantly enquiring as to means of fortifying the causeway which is the only connection between the castle and St Helier proper. His recent decision to ban the island's traditional pilgrimage to the Hermitage of St Helier, which passes through the castle, has been a major flashpoint, and may well have been a factor in the recent attack on Grouville Marsh, the former Organisation Todt forced labour camp which has been repurposed as a 'resettlement facility' for English-identifying refugees from Albia. 

And on and on the spider spins...but between his fractious family and their increasingly untenable position on an even smaller island, it's an open question as to how long he can continue. 

Saturday 15 April 2023

Don't play my game, Kieth. You won't win.

 First of all, apologies for having been absent for some time. A number of things collided, much the most important of which was getting back into Gig Mode for my first feature in about a year, at King Ink at the mighty Pop Recs in Sunderland. I tend to oscillate between Gig Mode and Writing Mode such that I do very little writing while working on performance, and vice versa, so for a month or so whenever things which would normally be a natural trigger to fire something off on here have occurred they've just wound up being filed away while I concentrated on getting off-book for 'Cancellation, Baby'. Anyway, the gig footage is up on my YouTube now for you all to enjoy, and I actually think I look kinda cute in it, in a clodhopping chungus kind of way:

Also I went up to Edinburgh with family to celebrate my brother's birthday. Here, have a photo I took while in the Athens of the North, specifically St Andrew Square, which is home to some incredible buildings and statuary:

And this.

By far the most annoying thing about being temporarily in Gig Mode, though, was not having the time for but desperately wanting to write about one of the most bizarre political events of the last week, which was the mystifying decision by Sir Kier Starmer QC to take a leaf out of my book and start calling his enemies nonces

I can't speak for Kier, here, but when I do this it's mainly in the sense that turnabout's fair play. You may have noticed the constant drumbeat of conservative media outlets trying to link LGBTQ+ people and grooming: my position is that I will stop saying anyone who opposes trans rights is a paedophile when these people stop repeating what Bad Gays host Ben Miller has called the queer equivalent of blood libel, and not one moment sooner. 

Or maybe I won't, to be quite honest, because there's one Hell of a pattern of behaviour with these fuckers. Whether it's defending child marriage, partying with underage students, publishing a book full of 'erotic' photos of children or being busted in possession of an underage sex doll, it sure is weird how often the soi-disant defenders of women and children turn out to have form for exactly the kind of crimes they accuse queer people of. I've been pointing this out in some form or another for years (the key turning point for me was learning from some pals in a hacker collective that a guy who was calling me immoral for supporting Fallon Fox was a full-on paedophile), but it's only recently that I decided to go full mask-off and just start outright calling these people nonces because quite honestly, what else do I have to lose? I've burned most of my bridges in poetry due to my refusal to play nice with scene darlings I know to be transphobes or rapists, Long Covid has made me a physical wreck, and the government of my country is literally engaging in the early stages of genocide against people like me while most folks look away or offer mealy-mouthed expressions of concern before looking up how to hide their Hogwarts Legacy trophies. If you won't save me from the noose, at least let me spit from the gallows. 

Thing is, Sir Kier Starmer QC is hardly on the scaffold, however much he may have lusted to send Gary McKinnon to almost certain suicide in an American prison. In fact, prior to this attack ad controversy, his party were way ahead of Sunak's Tories in the polls. Admittedly, Labour have been banging the law and order drum in recent months, with Kier giving speeches about how terribly traumatic it is to be able to smell cannabis; and Starmer's personal Islamophobia and racism are screamingly obvious to anyone who looks into how the party's disciplinary apparatus is being used; and no doubt there is a reasonably large slice of the electorate who can be pandered to with insinuations that Britain's first Asian Prime Minister is the kind of man his Home Secretary accuses of being in 'grooming gangs' (even though by far the vast majority of such gangs are made up of white dudes), but even so, you'd think Kier would guess this wouldn't be received well, if for no other reason than if you start suggesting the Prime Minister is a nonce defender people might start asking questions about the media that supports him and, indeed, the man who asked him to form a government. I don't shy away from asking those questions - but then I'm not hoping to move into 10 Downing Street. 

And also, unlike Starmer, I have never defended nonces myself, whereas Starmer quite literally has: he was on the legal team that defended Silvio Berlusconi against accusations that, among other things, he had sex with a thirteen year old girl. Quite literal nonce defending, right there on Starmer's CV. And he has to know that the Tory media are going to go ham on this stuff as soon as the election is announced. The only reason to go all-in on accusing Sunak of things Starmer himself literally did that seems even vaguely logical to me is to try and draw the poison now, get it all out in the open so it can't be used in the campaign - but that's a very risky strategy for Starmer personally. 

Assuming, of course, that he actually wants to be PM. It's pretty clear, when you look at Starmer's career, that a big part of it has been about him making himself useful to various bad actors (the most prominent of which is, I've always tended to assume, MI5, though having seen how often he's flown to DC on my dime I think we need to take seriously the possibility he's actually a CIA asset, though tbqfh whichever flag he has branded on his arse he's the same kind of piggy), of which the Labour right is only the most recent. It could well be that, having seen to it that socialism is now well and truly cast out of the party, Starmer is moving to the next stage of his role, suicide-bombing his own reputation in order to dirty up Rishi with the 'groomer' insinuation, before moving aside for a more charismatic 'clean skin' from his side of the party who can play at being Blair Mark 2. After all, as we all now know, he'll be able to retire quite comfortably. 

That's my best guess, anyway. It remains to be seen whether appealing to the racism of the red-faced wall will actually net Labour more votes. But the Starmer/Berlusconi stuff is going to get picked up on by the media sometime, and when that happens, I guarantee that you'll hear some Baz pointing out that 'say what you want about Corbyn, he only defended terrorists, not nonces.' I'm touching the lathe as we speak.