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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Poeting for Water

People listen up! I have been asked to write and perform a poem for Leicester Sing for Water on Sunday 8th June.  So please sponsor me as much or as little as you can. Just comment below and I will put you on my sponsor form. And come and support me on the day!

Today I have been poeting against war: specifically at an anti-war remembrance do-dah at the Secular Hall called ‘Memories in Conflict’.  Funded by lottery money, it was a sequence of poems (both War Poems and our own: I did ‘There’s a War on’ as well as one by Siegfried Sassoon) small-group discussions and talks.  Richard gave a talk on his own family history and how that connected with the war; someone else gave a talk on the history of pacifism in Leicester, which involved Ramsay Macdonald amongst others; there was a film featuring Harry Patch:


and in the middle of it all was a delicious lunch of rice and two sorts of veggie curry.  Brill!

Then on the way back my bike developed a puncture and had to be pushed home.  Not good.

We are going to Knighton Free Evangelical Church this evening, which Mark says is Not as Scary as It Used to Be.  And that’s official, folks!

Kirk out

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On positive news – and why scaremongering can seriously damage your health…


This is so relevant to where I am right now

Originally posted on let's talk!:

bkph-3-2-SMALL Today we are lucky to have a guest post on ‘let’s talk’, written by Rin Hamburgh,  a Bristol-based journalist specialising in psychology and well-being, green living and other lifestyle subjects. You can visit her website and blog at www.rin-hamburgh.co.uk. She writes here of the positive news movement, which is gaining in popularity as an alternative to the sensationalist news reports we are frequently faced with on a daily basis. It offers a new way of problem solving; one that supports our well-being instead of undermining it….

I hate reading newspapers. That probably sounds a little strange, coming from a journalist, but it’s true. It’s not that I don’t want to find out what’s happening in the world, it’s just that it’s all so relentlessly depressing. People are killing each other. The economy is in tatters. Your favourite food is going to kill you.

Often it is not the facts of…

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Well, and how has my news fast been doing?  The short answer is – great!  I have hardly missed it at all and in fact I feel tons healthier for having given up the news for what is now about 5 1/2 weeks.  Of course, some things have filtered through: I could hardly escape hearing about Tony Benn’s death, for example, though I did miss all the commentary and debate around it.  I also failed to escape hearing yesterday about the passing of Sue Townsend.  Both these people were important in different ways: Benn because of what he meant to the Left and Townsend because of her local connections.  Mark met her a few times as she was a great supporter of CND locally and turned up to the stalls on occasion.

I am going to do a Great Summing-up at the end of Lent; but for now I think it’s been immensely beneficial; so much so that I would like to continue.   It’s only when you stop doing something that you realise how much harm it was doing you; frankly I don’t know how I’m going to cope with going back to it.  But I do think it’s important to keep up with the news, so I can’t continue to avoid it.  I shall have to give it some thought.

Meanwhile, in local news, I have been given some duck’s eggs!  Yes, our lovely next-door neighbour who has some ‘quackless ducks’, has given me a load of their eggs.  I had one this morning – it was delicious.  Very white.

Oh! and I have been invited to be a support act at Word! on Tuesday.

So that’s all good…

(I’m going to have to stop saying that)

Kirk out

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Lawrence Limericks are Here

I once wrote a series of limericks about DH Lawrence’s changing fortunes.  It seemed to me very sad that Lawrence was so reviled in his lifetime for simply speaking the truth – as he saw it – about sex: and that now, since the zeitgeist has completely overtaken him, the poor man is all-but forgotten.   I know, I know – limericks are not exactly the most appropriate form for such a writer – but perhaps that’s the point.

Lawrence Limericks
They don’t give a fig about Lawrence
now sex is cascading in torrents
it’s harder to credit
that folk who’d not read it
once looked on his work with abhorrence.

They don’t give a damn about Dave
the Messiah who came up to save
our bodies from virtue
that bodice can hurt you
- but now he just spins in his grave.

His family christened him Bert
but sadly considered it dirt
the stuff that he wrote
‘it’s filth’ – and I quote
a word which must surely have hurt.

He flirted with Bloomsbury briefly
they loved his costumery chiefly
Virginia’s impressed
by the man with no vest
but his chest was infected with TB

And that was his downfall at last

though critics continued to blast

the hot air of the priggish

his fame grew quite biggish

respected in spite of his caste

but he died when the war was yet young

the Battle of Britain begun

while we stood alone

his spirit had flown

the air could not enter his lung.

And then, in the sixties, reborn!

The Chatterley verdict’s ‘not porn’

now naked men tussle

in films by Ken Russell

they no longer held you in scorn

But now? Now that Harry’s met Sally?

It doesn’t take much to get pally

and everyone’s grabbing

to have what she’s having

and that’s not at all up your alley.

And so, DHL, RIP

much better than sex on TV;

a seer of souls

hauled under the coals

a painter of flowers

and soul-mate of ploughers

whatever death gives you

your beauty outlives you -

for those who have bodies to see.

Kirk out

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