Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit

I’m about two weeks too late to benefit from the superstition, but I’ve been hard at work writing m’novel. As a result, I’ve not really been paying attention to much else, and missed the fact that one of my stories is now in print at Petrichor Machine. It’s called ‘Love Hanged Like Bunting in Hyde Park’, and it’s about infatuation and vermin. You can order a copy by clicking on the image below, if you so desire.



You often see Hemingway’s “For sale: baby shoes, never worn” cited around as a model of dramatic concision, but I’m not convinced. Maybe their friends just had poor taste in booties and the shop didn’t do returns?

Just imagine…

… that here, rather than this apology, there is a short post hymning the many bedevilments of writing, drafting, and the few other topics of last resort writers turn to when guilty about the absence of new material on their blogs.

O Soul

Lately I find myself envying both Walt Whitman and Coldplay.

As ideophonic interjections go, “Oh” is pretty hard to beat, and while it gave good service to a generation of Romantic poets, I just don’t have the balls to use it these days. So, I’ve added it to top hats and being described as ‘clubbable’ on my list of things for which I regret being born a century or so too late.

More seriously though, I do wonder if this is one of the reasons for the decline in the readership of modern poetry. By excising direct address to the numinous, whether in the form of gods or souls or history, modernism removed a sense of the sublime from poetry. We got a lot in return, but nothing has replaced that path to transcendence.

I’m not talking about religious belief of course (if you believe in God, you can always pray). In fact, in many ways, the fundamental humility of atheism actually encourages you towards contemplation of life’s exalted contradictions (how completely bizarre that for seventy years or so, my sense of my own existence effectively creates an entire universe, which then disappears utterly at the moment of my death). This is what poetry was once capable of – in the right hands, and with a few “oh”s thrown in, it could be the voice of creation begging for the understanding of its creator.


I seem to have been unwell now, in a niggling sense, for the best part of two months. An unfortunate side-effect of this perpetual cold, is that it appears to have robbed me of all but my most basic vocabulary. Because of this, I haven’t thought – let alone written – anything interesting for weeks.

I have been enjoying the music of Deanna Storey though. I know almost nothing about her, except that she provided the vocals to ‘Little Person’, the most prominent song on the Synecdoche, New York soundtrack.

No! Poetry…

Owning up to writing poetry tends to be an embarrassing admission, both because the practice of poetry is so weighed down with remembered scholastic boredom, and because most people who try write awful poems.

I probably write awful poetry too, but I don’t think there’s much to be gained from disowning your offspring. So, I hereby admit that my poem ‘New Bedford’ is now up at Eunoia Review.

Black Mirror: The National Anthem

I like Charlie Brooker. I really do. I follow him on Twitter, and I never get annoyed when he spends ages complaining about cars and John Lewis adverts, because I can’t drive and I don’t have any children. I begin with this pre-emptive apology, just to make clear that I am not the kind of person who reflexively hates Charlie Brooker and everything he does. Nor for that matter, am I the kind of person who finds the idea of a dramatic plot involving pig fucking intrinsically distasteful.

I did not, however, like the first episode of Black Mirror. The production values were high, the cast were uniformly better-than-average, and almost everything about it was completely acceptable, except that it wanted to be satire. And satire has to have some small relationship to the experienced world, otherwise it topples over into fantasy and absurdity. For satire to skewer, the fictional world from which you jab has to occupy approximately the same plane as the real world you want to hear squealing. Unfortunately, Black Mirror seemed set in an entirely imaginary world, in which the British public – as patriotic and gung-ho a bunch of defenders of national pride as you’re ever likely to meet – would put up with the idea of their elected leader – the representative of their collective democratic will – being humiliated on the global stage. The British already hate their role as obsequious butler to America’s wanton playboy (yes, Arthur is actually a satire about international relations) – the idea that they would willingly participate in being branded as a nation of pig-fiddlers is just too far beyond the pail…

If all the program wanted to do was make you imagine David Cameron having sex with a sow, then it could have been regarded as a flawless success. However, in the run-up to broadcast, there were too many allusions in the press to Gordon Brown’s apology for calling Gillian Duffy a ‘bigoted woman’ for this not to have been part of the accompanying expository PR guff. Therefore, we’re clearly supposed to see the two acts – apologising for bluff Scottish bad manners, and bestiality – as being on the same continuum. This is clearly ridiculous. Gordon Brown was rude, he was caught calling someone something that he wouldn’t have called them to their face. This was picked up by both old and new media, and after a brief firestorm of opinion he apologised, which to be frank, pretty much any well-raised Presbyterian boy probably would have done eventually anyway.

I think the ultimate failure of the premise of Black Mirror is best expressed as a simple thought experiment. Imagine the same scenario, only this time instead of porking a hog, replace the kidnapper’s demand with any of the demands of the Occupy movement. Does the story still end with Government capitulation? Thought not.