Tuesday, 27 December 2011

cashless scrap metal trading

And so a petition is underway to prevent cashless scrap metal trading. Not quite so moralistic as the campaign to get us all reading but from the same genus none the less. Its past of Zizek's chocolate laxative culture. The hole in my bucket. The wireless keyboard for my ipod touch second generation. I mean a few hours ago I wanted to begin writing this but began to ponder the delights of being able to type it into my ipod touch that has scene a new burst of life this Christmas. After much searching and ebay trawling I have come to the conclusion that there is no wireless keyboard compatibility with the ipod 2g. So now I am writing this on my wife’s laptop, which I really ought to have done in the first place. So scrap metal amendment act is akin to the finger in the dyke except the finger in the dyke is committed as a last resort and there is an awareness of this in the inserter’s brain. No the petitioners for the scrap metal bill amendment are taking the moral high ground. I mean how else can we prevent the sacking of culture by barbarian hoards with no appreciation of the intrinsic value of culture? I must state now that I loved the Barbara Hepworth two forms sculpture recently stolen from my local park but I was never able to view it in a culture vacuum. For one my sons were very fond of climbing inside its two circular openings and I would delight in taking their pictures thus posed. Secondly it had a very big sign in front of it on the grass (Divided forms by Dame Barbara Hepworth I’m hazarding a well educated guess), which gave it the appearance of a picture rather than a sculpture. Thirdly it always reminded me of how rarefied the air of Dulwich park (within a stone’s throw of shopping in Peckham and Brixton) really is. And I was genuinely shocked by its theft. Earlier in the day my young son had been asking me why people steal metal. In my explanation I focused on the morbid description of doomed attempts to steal copper coils from sub stations in the hope that this would banish any inspirational ideas it might give him in later life. So As I drove to a concert engagement that evening I was amazed to hear of the sculpture in Dulwich Park being ripped from its plinth. At first I harboured the hope that they had simply ripped it from the plinth hand then placed it on the ground beside it in a dadaesque comment on culture and plinths in general but no the language used was to imbue the news of the theft with its heathen quality.
 So if we want to prevent theft of art we have to appreciate it at the same level as life instead of separating it in cathedrals of commerce. I’m all for artists making a living but the students I teach always ask how much something is worth when we visit the Courtauld to see the Manet’s and Van Gogh’s. Amending the scrap metal law will perhaps prevent one or two thefts but will ultimately speed up the decline of the creative unconscious in the community’s scheme of things. How very apt (apophonia alert) that the sculpture in question is called divided form. The mind being the divided form that springs to mind. Now before you reach for your toffee hammer of dismissal due to having read a few of those on line what sided brain are you tests pleas read the introduction to Iain McGilchrist's The Master and his Emissary. The thesis here is that the left brain always always knows it is write to schematise life into a series of ever decreasing pigeon holes – the Romans did it and we are doing it again. It is now at the point that we have very nearly forgotten how to use the holistic brain of the grammarian to solve problems. The left brain says make it impossible to trade stolen sculptures and the right brain says value the artists and makers the shamans and shakers at least on a level with the abstract systemisers and number crunchers not to mention the fucking marketing experts. Remember we put the systems in place to help us keep up with our rapidly expanding insights and discoveries but they have now started to shape us.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Reliable Unreliable narrator

I am very grateful to one Bill Ectric for pointing me in the direction of his article on Strindberg. It is utterly enthralling. I recommend you read it post haste. Bill was kind enough to ask me about my work for an interview on his blog. Fans of David Devant may be interested in his latest post on the recently rediscovered film The Magician. I used to think I had aspirations to being some kind of polymath until I checked out the links at the side of Bill's page. Now I see I'm more of a dabbler. Toe in the ocean and all that. But as I used to say a little knowledge goes a long way. Reading about Strindberg was a revelation because it sounds like he freed himself from the expectations for literature to remain one side of fictional divide. When I wrote The latch last month I felt I had crossed a threshold and had leapt onto a horse far too wild for my wriding abilities. I think I just about managed to hold on though.
Bill Lectric's novel, Tamper, seems simply irresistible too. I mean what better recommendation than this blurb can there be?...
"If you like secret panels and
passages, pulp magazines like 
Amazing Stories, Fate, Weird 
Tales, and Argosy, Aldous Huxley's 
The Doors of Perception, 
small-town childhood escapades 
reminiscent of Jean Shepherd's A 
Christmas Story, Tom Wolfe's 
Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, and 
arcane historical fiction, Tamper 
is your kind of book."
Here's a picture of August Strindberg to prod your synapses. Not sure I've ever seen a photograph more full of narrative potential.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Pimico and the seamonkey tadpole people

Once upon a time there was a race of sea monkey tadpole people who lived in the deepest depths of an ocean. Of course they did not know it was an ocean as they lived in it. And they didn’t think it was deep or dark for that matter either. One day a young sea monkey like tadpole boy called Pimico was out collecting different shells from the sea bed (gathering beautiful shells was a favourite pass time of the tadpole seamonkey people) when he came across a wall of rock that he had never seen before. It was covered in lots of plants and shells that he had never seen before. He was amazed and filled with delight as he began to make his way up the rock collecting such a wild array of delicate discarded mollusc homes as he went. I will have the best shell collection in the whole of seamonkey tadpole world he mused in a non-verbal blur. His lack of understanding of literate forms of communication did not stop the joy rising through his body with each new delightful specimen that he acquired.
He had never gathered shells with such vigour before and soon he began to grow tired. He leant back on a boulder clutching his hoard and decided to nod off. The large rock however slid gently backwards and Pimico tumbled backwards and found himself falling into a cave inside the edifice. Pimico panicked and splashed about. Suddenly he became aware of a strange splashing sound and coming to his senses he noticed globules flying past his eyes. He looked down and saw that he was half submerged in a thick see-through shiny substance. He brought his flipper arm around to try and shovel the strange stuff away and was mesmerised to see more glistening globules flying past his eyes. Soon he was splashing away and laughing to himself in delight at the strangeness of realising he had not fallen into the substance but fallen out of it. And he was still breathing. Shaking his head gently and sighing half with relief, Pimico, sat back and began to place his shell hoard on the rocks beside him, savouring with pleasure the way they looked next to each other in patterns. Realising the time he plunged into the glistening gloop he had recently emerged from and headed home.
 Pimico soon began to return to the cave and spent hour upon hour arranging his fascinating shell collection. He took his family to see it and word of its mesmeric qualities soon spread. Seamonkey tadpole people began to gather in the cave to compare shell patterns and before long they had grown used to being outside of the glistening substance. Over the weeks it seemed that the seamonkey tadpole community was moving home to the inside of the cave. Only certain of their number retained the ability to dive back into the glistening gloop from wherest they came. The collecting of shells became harder and so they turned their attention to categorising those that they already had. Pimico was amongst the first to start scratching marks in the soft sandstone to remind him of which shell went where. Over the seasons the displays of shells grew more and more uniform and grid like and the marks that served as reminders grew more and more elaborate. The seamonkey tadpole people were rightly very proud of their displays and the drip feed of new shells slowed down so they were able to keep a good sense of order to them. Pimico even began to invent tunes to help him and the saemonkey tadpole community to remember the different names. He no longer felt the need to return to the glistening gloop and to his initial surprise found his body changing. One morning after sleeping in the cave (as most of the community now did) he found that he had proper limbs and tiny wiggly appendages at the end of them, which were ideal for manipulating the shells into more and more complex arrangements.
  As time went by Pimico felt a little sad that most of the seamonkey tadpole people could no longer go and look for shells so he decreed in his role as elder that a shell corridor be built leading into the depths so that they could once more look out into the realm from wherest they had emerged all those years ago. With their newly evolved limbs this task was much easier than they would once have believed possible and soon a tunnel was constructed that reached far down into the glistening gloop. Over time the gloop wore away at the shells, which became transparent. To this day the monkey people (they are no longer sea or tadpole) like to wander along its length pondering how they might one day come to under stand the dark eternity beyond its shimmering circumference. 

Monday, 19 December 2011

Adam Ant Part two

This then is the second part of my Adam Ant adventure. I am no expert on the subject and feel the shadow of an early Ant's bass player fall on the page. Mr Andrew Warren, for tis he, never struck me as someone who stood for much nonsense. I feel privileged to know this punk legend.
The three minute warning announces to the people of Tunbridge Wells that the band are about to take to the stage.
So having recovered from my fit of snake brandishing induced hysterics I return to my seat at the front by the nosebleed inducing PA. First thrill is remembering that Adam Ant always has two drummers. Already my ticket is feeling great value for money. The band, as is traditional, make a forward foray onto the stage to clear the room of all doubters. Then the way is ready for the king/prince (no not leader that’s a very bad man). Adam takes to the stage in finely crafted Nelson style pirate’s hat adorned with peacock feathers. Chief. I was never a fan as a boy yet watching now it is immediately apparent that this man is a real artist. He created a mainstream conduit to the edges of consensus reality. There is a touch of the lost boys and peter pan to this family he seeks to reunite but aside from the clich├ęs I am overwhelmed with a feeling that this is outsider art writ large. My only complaint was that the decibels interfere with the sense of presence but then again I am sitting at the front – a position more beneficial to watchers of pantomimes with stars of Eastenders in. Early tunes such as Zerox and Car Trouble are genuinely idiosyncratic examples of pop punk surrealism and Mr. Ant brandishes a guitar with such dexterity that he banishes all doubts over his musicality. Later when I mention this to other people they say well he has had a long time to practice. And yes it is clear Marc Bolan is something he’s always wanted to be but from where I was sitting his playing seemed like the most natural thing in the world for him to do.  He was saying look I wrote these songs. But that is the poisoned chalice of creating an imagined realm around your pop. Who wants to know who wrote the songs then? Sergeant Pepper get your scrambled egg coat Sir Paul is coming through.
             I was struck by how little he said between songs and a charade like quality permeated the atmosphere. We were all part, so it seemed, of a masked interlude in life's proceedings reached through a collective dream state. At times Adam was like a man stuck in a toy theatre left to embellish and perfect his moves, which then took on an abstract level of tribal communication. Later into the set when most gigs would be over he does start to talk. He tells us about Bono forcing him to only play one song at Live Aid (Vive la Rock) and how the lady at Radio One loved his love song but that it just “doesn’t sound like Adam Ant”. I think it was called “you’re Wonderful”. My feeling was that although Adam Ant didn’t write many love songs his pantomime pop had more life and soul in than the crooning new romantics around him in the charts. But clearly this concert has an element of putting some demons to bed. One demon in aprticular that strikes me is Adam reclaiming his image that seems to have been appropriated for the Pirates of the Caribbean by Johhny Depp. This would perhaps explain the self conscious use of the spectacles as a stage prop. Instead of a white stripe Adam is frequently pushing his glasses back up his nose. I would estimate that this entire spectacle takes two and a half hours and at the two-hour mark I have to bolt for the train where I re-immerse myself in the world of Jerry Cornelius a fictional character whose style, mystery and sexual appetite Adam Ant almost rivalled in the real world. Jerry Cornelius is completly fictive so has an unfair advantage of course.
This is my friend Sarah who is a far greater expert than I on all things Ant. be like ants.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

I Foiled A Gold Heist - moving along now

Hello this happened to me January of this year. This version (I've tried it several times) is probably still far too long and a tad rambling but to this day it still feels like an episode of The Prisoner.
Mikey Georgeson

I think I am at liberty to talk about this now that the felon and driver of the bandit vehicle is safely behind bars having pleaded guilty. Though I am not sure what he pleaded guilty to. The whole thing still feels like a piece of meta-fiction and having spent the last few years delving into the realms of my unconscious creativity this is hardly surprising. Several friends have indeed commented that such a colourful piece of happenstance could only happen to me. I don’t remember the impact itself (normal I am told) but I do remember stopping in a box junction once I heard a siren and saw the familiar flickering blue light in the darkness down the road. I always used to feel somehow useful as I pulled over to let the emergency services pass. This time, however, within seconds of applying the breaks I saw a white transit van heading straight for me through a red light on the wrong side of the road. “It’s okay,” I told myself, “these are highly trained drivers and he will easily avoid you”. In that blink of an eye I felt sure that whatever happened the police would take care of things. Except the van kept coming even as I looked the driver in his emotionless eye. The next thing I remember is thinking oh that was less traumatic that I thought a head on collision with a speeding transit van would be. It was clear that the driver of the van was clearly not part of the emergency services as he leapt out and headed for the nearby park but before I had time to dwell on such things a man was climbing into my car and applying a neck brace to my person. It seems a private ambulance had been at the scene thus lending the scenario an air of my own private episode of casualty as I watched the scene unfold through the windscreen of my now written off Mazda Xedos. The police were right on cue and they seemed to swarm before me on the rain speckled screen. Quite how they did this in spite of not having pursued the van down the wrong side of the road I do not know but they insist that they were not behind him as we collided.
            My initial concerns were for my ukulele and acoustic guitar on the back seat of the car that I could not turn round to look at. The private paramedic kept me talking and after half an hour an NHS crew arrived at the scene. Sean seemed to be the man in charge of the NHS team and he kept talking to me in a pleasant cajoling fashion. “If you turn your head a little to the right you’ll see gold coins on the road’ he joshed. Daring to move my neck a little (I had been advised not to move at all) I did indeed see what appeared to be large doubloon style coins glinting on the rain soaked tarmac. He reported minutes later that the vans foot wells were full of them. Together the two crews discussed how best to remove me from the vehicle and after somehow bending the front right side of the car open the four of them lifted me onto a spinal board across the two front seats of the car and out onto a waiting trolley. About now I began to think I’m fine why are they doing this to me? They wheeled me to the waiting public ambulance and placed my instruments in the vicinity. Whilst my vitals were being checked a nice young policeman climbed aboard and read me my rights. Yes he cautioned me. He was also very keen to find out if the fugitive was wearing a high visibility vest. I couldn't remember i said but even then had a faint recollection of the inadmissibility of leading questions. This really was like my own private budget TV drama. I should have known when I set off earlier full of hope for the New Year. I mean when we watch those programs we always know something awful is going to happen right? I think now that the ambulance crew were too shocked to say anything to the questioning police officer but when they didn’t things began to feel positively Kafkaesque. One minute I was on my way home the next I’m a suspect in a gold heist.
            An hour after the impact I was eventually asked which hospital I would like to go to and I rather forthrightly suggested King’s as it was nearest my home. To my surprise they agreed and I spent the next half of the night in resuss. Sean the paramedic was like a guardian angel and without him I would have felt positively terrified, as it was my fear took on a gentler upward curve the longer I was kept immobile. My urge to go home almost prevented me from acknowledging that my spine hurt but I did admit that yes the middle of my back hurt a lot. I was swiftly dispatched for x-rays, which took a few goes because “the spine is very long”. “Ooh I thought, “I have a long spine. That’s a bonus” but it turns out everyone has a long spine. As they wheeled me out of the x-ray room the nurse lent over and gently asked me if I felt paralysed? More Kafkaisms I laughed to myself. I should point out that by now I was chattering incessantly retelling the unfolding drama to anyone who appeared when I wasn’t lying by myself for long stretches at a time staring at the modular ceiling above me. The immediate world had taken on a rather narrow field of vision you see. About now the emotionally intelligent paramedic also leant over me and whispered that in his opinion I was going to be all right. Clearly he was breaking protocol and he went onto say that it might take a while but I was not going to be unable to walk forever – or words to that effect. So now cue the bombastic Doctor “So tell me about these pains in your legs” “erm its my back” I replied meekly. He was not happy and swift staccato gruff outbursts ensued to the medics around him. At some point my x-rays were examined and it was noted that there was no acute damage. “Does this mean I can get up?” I enquired. “No” came the reply "you might fall over". Now I can’t remember how but I persuaded the gruff bombast to let me get up to walk unaccompanied to the toilet. So imagine the relief of relieving myself after the relief of discovering that I could in fact walk! I was on a role and persuaded the police constables who had been assigned the duty of waiting to see if I spoke out of turn to drive me home in the early hours of the morning. My wife had not slept since I called from the ambulance at half ten and it was now 4 a.m. I have not slept well since.
            But what of the gold coins? Well when the police didn’t get in touch I began to wonder if I had somehow blown the whole thing out of proportion. That in actual fact yes it was a mere traffic incident as they kept telling me in the letters advising that they would be taking no action against me. I have a very kind friend who works in the murder squad and she was very concerned for me. So much so that she arranged for me to give a statement to the police investigating the robbery. I turned up at Kennington police station still expecting my heroes welcome but the officer concerned had been called away. Instead I gave my statement through reinforced glass to another officer. As I was about to leave feeling I had achieved exactly nothing I dared to ask about the gold coins I had imagined on the road. Oh there were two tons of them,” she proudly stated ‘and I should know because I had to log them in”. She even told me the location of the mint they were stolen from which happened to be over the road from a gym in Camberwell where I occasionally take my son to play football. So that explains why the van weighing two tons in itself was probably only able to sail a fixed course into the front of my car and why the impact felt soft in a very heavy kind of way I instantly reasoned. After my complaints I met with the police customer service team and a traffic sergeant who assured me that they had no idea they were chasing a van full of gold coins (the mint made royal wedding medallions) and had they then they wouldn’t have chased it. “But still about the time it hit me you would have called off the chase?” “Yes” came the astonishing reply and I saw a brief crumpling of the customer service police employee. Still there was no apology and I wrote to my local MP Tessa Jowell. Every time I tell the story I feel as if people will think I’m delusional and so there were several email exchanges with her office checking, I presume, that I wasn’t a fantasist. The bottom line was I did have a crime reference number. Then in July nearly seven months after the crash I had an email from a DCI, which included the word “apology”. After months of meeting with police customer services being told that I would be very happy after out meeting this felt like real progress. But the damage was already done. The police had got their man and I was only too pleased to have been of inadvertent service but then they left me in limbo spending days on the phone trying to claim not only for the car (a trifling concern) but for the physical and mental therapy I knew I would need to recover. Oddly I am unable to claim criminal damages because the felon was in a vehicle.
It’s not so much that I want compensation (would you believe I am claiming through the van's insurer?)  more that I would like to know that, yes for sooth a mint in Camberwell that mints gold royal wedding coins was robbed and the fully laden bandit vehicle was chased by the police down the wrong side of the road through a red light into the front of your car. Having the police state it that baldly would help me feel I could move on from that particular box junction. Here in my car and all that.  

Friday, 9 December 2011

Car Trouble

Looking back over the sea of fog I can now report that my Mr. Solo odyssey was an attempt to live life as cheese dream. To go hither and thither wherest it may lead me. Lately I've been in search of a good sleep. I think this began when the ultimate cheese dream manifested after a Mr. Solo rehearsal. Now I can see how this may have been to do with my karmic directors being at odds with the flow of the universe. This resulted in a transit van carrying two tons of gold hitting me head on. I thank G(g)od (the universe) that I was alone but still feel that terrifying fear of being buried alive that I felt at the time from time to time. It's wearing off a little and I find I can once more see the magical side of sitting at a set of traffic lights in a neck brace trying not to rubber neck the doubloons on the road. 
And so it was that I took a train journey to Royal Tunbridge Wells in search of a certain fermented dairy product style somnambulistic experience. It was a time to read my doorstop size Jerry Cornelius omnibus. I knew that synchronicity was returning to my orbit when after having composed a response to the question of "what is the condition of music?" posed in the Guardian notes and queries I opened said tome to see that the fourth book was indeed called "The Condition of Muzak". This was going to be good I mused. Earlier that day I had learnt that the medical term for obsession with random coincidence was apophonia so to be experiencing it now felt especially synchronistic. As luck would have it my wife had returned home early from work so I was able to get there in time for the support act. I heard the first as I headed for the deserted downstairs bar - a nod to shouty late 80's cyber punk. Rapidly I became aware that this venue was ordinarily the domain of pantomime and touring family style theatre. It was all very cosy and peeps all had their best coats on. Ladies had nice hair and men had nice slacks. All very civilised. And so we took our places (ours were four rows back from the nose bleed PA hastily installed for monsieur ant I presume). The feel of the anticipation seriously reminded me of going to Billy Smarts circus as a child. A specifically English provincial excitement wafted fragrantly about us all. The lady came to the front of the stage. A lovely girl – part athlete part burlesque part red coat except without the coat and without the blouse and skirt. The snake above her head was blanched looking – had she par boiled it to ensure docility? The music was CIA noise level bass throb beneath pastiche 50s and 80s family pop. I am sure that Michael Moorcock concocted this in his last cheese dream. I felt sorry for the static snake who ended the first song inside the mouth of the entertaining lady. I made my excuses to my friends and headed for the chilly night air. I let my hysterics envelop me – I wanted to share with anyone passing just how bizarre the whole thing had been. When someone is trying that hard to entertain an auditorium of static winter coat wearers still murmuring about the days travails one can easily have a moment of existential crisis. I am learning that such morbid thoughts can be extinguished with ease and returned to my seat well in time for the prince/king himself.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Table manners

There is a soul shaped hole in the art world. We work around it as if it were a large dining table with jagged corners. We could all sit down around its expansive perimeter but prefer instead to manoeuvre about it using our rapier like wits to dismiss its presence. An artist could incorporate the table in their work but they would have to somehow knowingly create an alter ego who was outside of the modes of knowing analysis. Mentioning William Blake is like declaring an appreciation of antique tables that existed in more innocent times but such things are frankly no longer realistic for those who eat on the hoof. I have tried to avoid the table but it makes me sick. The art world loves its finger food.