St George Wasn’t British, I’m not Deaf and Liam Neeson isn’t God. Apparently…

Well, happy St George’s Day if that means anything at all to you – which it certainly doesn’t to me: especially since St George was, by all accounts, from somewhere in modern Turkey and not from Guildford at all.  Goodness only knows where the dragon was from.  Perhaps Mark knows?

But Mark is busy talking to the woman from BBC radio 4′s ‘Feedback’ programme.  I was all a-ferment when she rang, wondering what it could be about.  Apparently it was in response to his complaint about yesterday’s ‘PM’ and 6 0′clock news.  Having switched PM off during an extremely long discussion about the next Manchester United manager, we put on the news only to be confronted with a seven-minute-long!!! item about the very same thing!  This is NOT NEWS!  I don’t give a flying f*ck about football, but whether I do or not, it’s not bloody news!  England winning the world cup; Andy Murray winning Wimbledon – yes, that’s news: but the next effing manager of an effing football team does not deserve seven full minutes of a half-hour programme.  So listen to ‘Feedback’ on Friday and you might hear Mark ranting about it.
So yesterday was otherwise quite restful: in between Spanish sessions I watched ‘Becoming Jane’ followed by ‘Jamaica Inn’.  Now, i have been slightly worried on occasion by my hearing; but during the latter I became convinced that I was going deaf.  I couldn’t hear a word of the dialogue apart from a few snatches; and since Daniel has wrested his X-box from our control, I have no access to subtitles either.  So I was getting quite worried until this morning on a thankfully football-light ‘Today’ programme they revealed that the sound quality was awful!  Apparently no-one could hear it, and vast swathes of the populace were, like me, convinced that they were going deaf.
But what about Rev, eh?  I didn’t see that one coming!  I won’t spoil it if you haven’t seen it but bloody hell!  And I’m sure that was Liam Neeson as God, but he wasn’t credited.
Who is this God person anyway?
Kirk out
PS and come down to the Donkey tonight where I’m doing some poems for World Book Night.

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Dandelions, Blackcurrants and Potatoes

Well, and where have I been for the last two days?  In my pit, that’s where.  Rising only perfunctorily to make dandelion wine and potato curry; I have spent yesterday and today in a state of stupor only partly accounted for by the deliciously blackcurranty Rioja brought round by a neighbour.  Yes! the neighbours came on Saturday, or some of them at any rate: two couples, one with a three-day-old baby!  Yes, you read that right – three days!  I was astonished at their going anywhere with a baby that small but I guess they didn’t have to come far.  So a good afternoon was had by all.

So that’s all good.

Blast, I did it again!  Still, the series has finished now.  Only four episodes!  That’s a weird length.

So.. the great news is that our financial problems are now at an end.  We are no longer threatened with homelessness, and this is such a relief that I have found myself in a state of exhaustion after all the anxiety.  Yesterday I slept till midday, and today I fell asleep in the bath for about an hour.  An hour!  I’m still knackered.  Think I’ll have a week off writing this week.

And that’s us up to date.  Happy Easter.

Kirk out

PS  Oh, and we’ve decided to hold our housewarming in June.  Watch this space!

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It’s Bad News Week

Well, since it’s nearly Easter I am easing out of my news fast – and after only about 20 minutes of the Today programme I’d had enough.  ‘Turn it off,’ I said to Mark: already I was angry, frustrated and fearful, and it was only half-past seven.  This is not good.  I’m going to have to find a way past this, because it’s not good just to ignore the news: you need to keep up with what’s going on.  But you also need perspective.  You need to look after your mental health – and frankly, if I’d been listening to the news along with all the stuff I’ve been going through in the last few weeks, I would have gone under.  The news makes me feel that I’m carrying the world’s problems on my shoulders: each time I hear a terrible story I want to do something about it, but mostly there’s nothing I can do, so I end up feeling frustrated and powerless.  This is definitely not good.  Even in those cases where there is something I can do – a famine, for example, for which I could donate to an appropriate charity – I feel there’s too much suffering and I can’t donate to everything.

There is a view that the media do this on purpose to keep us all in a state of fear and helplessness.  Whatever the truth of the intention behind it, the effect is the same: fear, anxiety, anger – sometimes rage – and helplessness.  What I’ve found during Lent is that it’s much healthier to do something about the stories you come across.  This needn’t mean living in a little bubble of your friends and family: you can still be in touch with the wider world, but you hear about stories via people you know; often people who are involved in efforts to help and who can involve you too if you wish.  You get feedback on how things are going; you may even get to meet some of the people who feature in the story: in short, you feel included.  You feel powerful, not helpless.  And this is Good News, isn’t it?  It has to be.

So my advice is, for some part of your week or month, give up listening to the news.  Maybe take one day a week out; or one weekend a month.  It’ll still be there when you come back – and in the meantime you’ll be refreshed, encouraged and empowered.

Kirk out

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Alas, Poor Gabriel

There’s an awful lot of death around these days.  Have you noticed?  I’m just coming out of my news coma – I know it’s a couple of days early but I thought I’d get myself acclimatised so I’m easing myself into it gently.  Besides, I have to do a talk tomorrow at Tomatoes about how it all went, so I need to find out what I’ve missed.  A lost plane, the death of bananas and the greed of Maria Miller, seems to sum it up.  And today, the sad news that Gabriel Garcia Marquez has died, aged 87.  Frankly, I was surprised he was still alive, so it didn’t affect me as much as you might think, but I fell in love with Marquez when I was in Spain.  Everybody was reading him then; especially ‘Cien Anos de Soledad’ (One Hundred Years of Solitude) and Love in the Time of Cholera; and I absolutely adored him.  There are very few people who can do magic realism well – you have to have it in the blood, I think – and Marquez is one of them.  I shall dig out my old copies of his work and re-read them.

Adios, Gabriel.  We’ll miss you.

So I’m slowly coming round and back to the world again – and I’m determined it isn’t going to have the same effect on me as it did before.  I will not get paranoid, anxious, angry and fearful; I will take the news in but not let it dictate my mood.

I find Lenten fasts can be quite life-changing.  For example, we used to give up TV for Lent every year and then one year we just thought; Oh, why bother?  Let’s give it up for good.  And we did.  That was around 1999 I think; and we haven’t looked back.  We didn’t even have the iplayer in those days, just videos to keep us going.  Many’s the video I learnt by heart.  Seriously, what do you need TV for?  It’s mostly ‘reality’ rubbish.

Read a book instead.  Read Gabriel Garcia Marquez.  Go on, read him now.

Hasta luego

Kirk out

PS  Oh, and I’m writing a new story based on Mark’s weirdness.  If anybody knows any magazines that publish trans stuff, let me know.

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Kafka and Fries

I went to the Phoenix yesterday, courtesy of Steve, to see a film called ‘The Double’.  I was instantly hooked – this is a Kafka-esque film about a lowly clerk working in a strange incomprehensible firm, headed by a mysterious character called ‘the Colonel’ whose resemblance to the KFC Colonel cannot be coincidental.  Everyone ignores him or bullies him; accidents happen to him all the time; he has no self-esteem at all and he cannot make his voice heard.  There’s a woman he likes but though he has some chances he fails to make a connection with her in spite of being sympathetic and sensitive and painstakingly reconstructing all the pictures she makes.  Simon’s life is miserable enough, but when James, his exact physical double, comes to work at the firm it gets a whole lot worse.  James is over-confident, unprincipled and mean, and ends up taking over Simon’s whole life.  The ending is a bit depressing as the protagonist ends up jumping from a balcony and killing himself, so I could have done without the last half-hour – but still, it was well worth seeing.

The society Simon inhabits is very like that of Kafka – it’s bureaucratic and unfeeling.  There’s also something strange and off-centre about the perspective: people loom, machinery is somehow too big and the mechanical world dwarfs the human.

The cast is quite varied: there are American, British, Australian and Irish actors.  It stars Jessie Eisenberg in a role that couldn’t be more different from Mark Zuckerberg in’The Social Network’.  James Fox is the mysterious Colonel.

Take a look:

Kirk out

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So This is All Good

It’s been a beautiful day here in blogland and I’ve been as busy as a pollen-gathering insect.  This morning I wrestled with the novel whose first two chapters I intend to send to Cinnamon Press

then I wrangled somewhat less successfully with the Sing for Water poem, before remembering that I needed to fix my bike for tomorrow when I shall be at Westcotes Library to protest its possible closure.  Come down if you can – the Mercury will be there:

Having fixed an awkward puncture and discovered that the inner tube of our wheelbarrow is beyond repair, I started to make soup while listening to the Afternoon Play.  This was based on the TV series ‘Silk’ which I enjoyed and probably mentioned on here.

Then at three o’clock a sadly diminished Spanish group turned up for their first session.  We learned to say ‘hola’ (hallo), ‘soy Liz’ (I’m Liz), ‘quien es?’ (who’s that?) and to count to ten with the help of Sesame Street.  Sadly I can’t find out how to do the upside-down question marks on here, but they practised writing those at the end of the session and seemed to enjoy it.  So that’s all good.

Damn, I must stop saying that!

I then dashed to the Co-op to buy cheese, Gromit,* and managed to squeeze a couple of lemons and some sugar into my shopping basket.**  These are to make my first batch of wine this year, which will be nettle: the blackberries and elderberries will have to wait until I can get some raisins.

Mark did a herb walk on Aylestone Meadows which apparently was successful – and he’s had a couple of people take up his offer of weeding their garden.

So that’s all good.


Oh, and I’m slightly concerned about how the neighbours will react to being invited to tea.  I saw one of them today and she looked a bit embarrassed and didn’t mention it.

So that’s me up to date.  How about you?  How was your day?

Kirk out

*Gromit wanted to come in there so, in the true spirit of Winnie-the-Pooh, I let him.

** not literally




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The Utter Multiplicity of Effusions

Sometimes when I’m feeling a bit indoors-y I like to go outside.  That seems like a bit of a no-brainer, but how often do we make excuses not to go out?  ‘It’s a bit windy; I feel cold; I don’t feel like going out today.’  We’ve all been there – or rather, we’ve all not been there and just sat in our chair because it’s easier.  Especially in winter.  But this time of year there’s no excuse.  I positively defy you to go out and experience the utter multiplicity of effusions that are springing from the ground right now.  The forget-me-nots are out:

the grape hyacinths are out:

Argh!  Now it’s posted three of these and won’t let me delete them.  Oh, well – looks like it’s a good year for grape hyacinths.  What else have we got?  There’s blossom everywhere:

and that’s without mentioning all the butterflies that are fluttering by and the bees that are busy already.  What are you waiting for?  Yesterday in my garden when I was mowing the lawn a robin came so close it almost got chopped up by the blades in order to snatch the worms which lay exposed on the surface.

So get outside!  Go into your garden.  If you haven’t got a garden, go to the park – but GO!

Go on.  Now!

Oh, and Happy Birthday Mary.

Kirk out

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