How to Set a Mind

This works best when the mind is fresh.  Open the mind (this is a temporary procedure and nothing to worry about!) and pour in a couple of strong thoughts.  Close mind and leave for a few months.  Do not stir – the mind will set on its own.  Once hardened the mind will stay set until it reaches the end of its useful life.

Should you wish to re-set the mind you can use a good solvent such as Brain Wash (TM) – however this is not recommended as it can cause permanent damage.  An alternative method is to insert pertinent questions at intervals – this takes longer but has been found to be more effective on most subjects.  It also has far fewer side-effects.


Once the mind is set it may still be affected by its environment.  It should therefore be stored in a sympathetic society among Like Minds, otherwise over time the set of the mind may be eroded.

Care must be taken at all times to preserve the balance of the Mind Set.  Whilst resistant to many kinds of change, sets are nevertheless vulnerable to pests and should be kept in a clean, dry place away from dust, Free Thoughts and Rising Liberation.  Recommended containers are available, colour-coded according to the Set (make sure you get the right colour for your Mind otherwise seepage will occur.)  Popular containers include Religion, Politics and of course the perennial favourite, Education.

Though Mind Sets are popular it is important to choose the right one for your subject.  Fortunately this is all-but inevitable because of your own Mind Set.

What do you mean, you don’t have one?  Of course you do!  Everybody has one!

So… moving on: don’t ask me whose particular mind-set provoked that little dissertation…

Yesterday as most of you will know, I was on Radio Leicester.  I arrived early which was a mixed blessing as I was able to chat and relax, but then at the same time I got more nervous as the clock crept towards 3 pm.  The news and weather had never seemed so long.  ‘Now for it,’ I thought – but no!  there was traffic news! – and then he played one of my chosen records, My Sweet Lord, before I got to speak.  It was fine, I felt relatively relaxed though still a little tense and plagued by the frog that lurks perennially in my throat (I’ve got a poem about that).  I did two from the Ripe Tomatoes collection – the Ballad of the Bowstring Bridge and the Ode to the Upperton Rd Bridge – and he also played a rather drastically slow live version of Suzanne.  The programme is still here on iplayer until next Sunday (start at one hour in)


See you next year everyone!

Kirk out

August, Turds, Thurnby Lodge and Dada

Warning – there is some grossness in this post!

Someone has been arrested for the bizarre crime of placing a pig’s head outside a Scout Hut in Thurnby Lodge.  Now you might think that smacks of a ‘lord of misrule’ type of activity: the kind of thing Kenton Archer might do in a wilder moment: however, when you know that the Scout Hut in question was no longer Scouty but had been taken over by a local Muslim group, the incident takes on an altogether different hue.  I don’t pretend to understand the mentality of someone who would do that but probably laughter is as good a reaction as any, since the pig’s head is designed to offend.  Lenny Henry once bravely did a great routine about racist crimes he had endured, including one of leaving a turd outside his door.  I can’t find a link but he speculated on how and when the offending turd was produced: did the bloke (it’s almost certainly a bloke) come ready-prepared with one in his hand or did he stand on the doorstep and push one out?

It was a lot funnier when he did it…

Moving on… I dropped in at New Walk Museum yesterday and was pleased to find it full of people including a number of families.  They have a great exhibition of Dadaist drawings from Nazi-era Germany as well as photos by August Sandler who seems to have done a lot of ‘mass observation’ type stuff.  In a separate room there was a collection of photos of old Leicester, dating as far back as the late 19th century, showing things like Humberstone Gate tram booth – now a taxi office; the clock tower over and over (and over), Town Hall Square looking just the same, Granby St with trams and without, London Rd Station looking very similar to now – and loads of old and forgotten cinemas.

Go see – the Dadaist and the Sandler exhibitions finish on the 6th.

Daniel made a video of his day yesterday – here it is:

OH!  And before I forget, I’m on Radio Leicester this afternoon at around 2.45.

Kirk out

Sex and Tea and Rock and Soul

I went out yesterday in search of a birthday card for Daniel and came back with a Simply Red CD.  The more cards there are, the less suitable any of them seem to be for the person you want them for.  Though there are more cards aimed at the geeky teenage boy than ever before, none of them is quite right for our geeky teenage boy.  So I came back and, like Boy George, thought I’d rather have a cup of tea.

And I promptly broke the teapot lid.  Though this was clearly a tragedy of epic proportions, I have to admit it did break in a rather fascinating way: there was an isosceles triangle with the handle on top; a couple of jagged shards from the rim, and a long slice of lid which fitted precisely and awkwardly between the two main chunks – in fact the whole thing resembled nothing so much as an archaeology project.  Everything that falls in our kitchen, breaks in our kitchen, since the floor is tiled with special crockery-smashing tesserae from the Stone Age – or possibly the Iron Age – certainly from a time before china was invented.  I’ve lost count of the number of mugs and plates that have been smashed beyond repair – but what makes me particularly sad are the teapots I’ve lost.  I seem to get through about three teapots a year, usually through breaking the lids.  The EQ (Exasperation Quotient) of yesterday’s lid-breaking was particularly noteworthy: I grabbed the tea cosy from the cupboard to put on the metal teapot which I use for roibos (and which is the only one of my pots to last more than four months) and the tea cosy caught on the knob of the lid, yanking it from above in what must have been a rather neat somersault and causing it to fall and smash on the floor (this floor even exerts its crockery-smashing muscles through the rather fetching rug which we have put down precisely to stop this sort of thing!!!!) whereupon there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth.  Superglue was tried and failed, and in the end in a belt-and-braces approach I bought some different glue AND a replacement teapot.  The bones of the old lid are now knitting together on a shelf as I write.

Now!  please do NOT ask why I bother with teapots.  If you have to ask such a question you will never understand: a teabag in a cup is the most depressing object in creation. It is not proper tea (which is theft, ha ha) it lacks not only flavour but the element of ritual which is so much a part of tea-making.  It also lacks the elem ent of sharing.  Not that I usually share my pot with anyone, since Mark abhors the leaf, choosing instead the Ground * – but when visitors come, the pot can expand to accommodate them.

So that was yesterday.  I also watched the original Thirty-Nine Steps, which was not one thirty-ninth as exciting as I remembered.

Kirk out

*he used to spill these over the sink and floor, thus giving rise to a running joke about ‘grounds for divorce

Life Imitates Arse

– or ‘arse long, y-fronts longer’, perhaps… You know how there was a fashion for young men to wear trousers half-way down their backsides, tastelessly displaying half the underpants beneath?  It was utterly gross and thankfully you don’t see it much any more – but, well!  Daniel has a pair of trousers which saves him the trouble of having them at half-mast * by having a false pair of pants sewn into the top!!!  I ask you!  It’s like having a false ladder in your tights or a false hole in your crotch.  Tights – now there’s another abomination.  There have been a couple of periods in my life when due to work, I was obliged to wear skirts – and hence, tights.  Tights are the work of the devil; they are an instrument of slavery.  Uncomfortable and cold in winter, uncomfortable and sweaty in summer; you only have to look at something sharp to get a ladder in them – and if you’re a teacher you quickly find that old school desks and chairs eat tights by the dozen.  Tights are not a garment – they are an instrument of oppression and should be consigned to the outer darkness.

Having said that, I have some brightly-coloured pairs which I wear for fun – but that’s completely different.  I also have some thick woolly ones which do keep you warm and don’t get ladders in.  But the others – the ones that imitate flesh?  You can keep ’em.

Last night I went to Pinggk thinking poets would be thin on the ground – but there were loads!  It was a great evening with some music, French poetry and songs from Mellow Baku.  I did The Lady in the Van and sold a couple more pamphlets – I now have only two left! which is brilliant.

I may go for a swim today, if the pool is open.

Kirk out

PS  Blast!  It isn’t.

*or half-arsed, lol

Hop it, Hobbit!

If The Life of Pi hadn’t turned out to be in 3D we could never have considered going to see The Hobbit – but 3D gives me a headache and so, rather than turn around and trudge back home in the rain, we took the plunge and bought two quite breathtakingly expensive tickets to see Tolkein rendered into film.  And how was it?

Well – good in parts I suppose.  The good bits included Martin Freeman.  He was exactly my idea of what a hobbit ought to be, and showed a range of expression I haven’t seen before in him – and which was entirely lacking in the other characters, even Gandalf.  So without Martin Freeman I would not have survived the three hours or so of this film.  Ian McKellen was good as Gandalf, but once he’d dispensed smiling wisdom and sober thoughtfulness, there was little left for him to do but dispense them again as and when required, giving a good, throaty growl from time to time to express thoughtfulness (or so I surmise).  Still, he was at least convincing in the role, as was Sylvester McCoy as Thingy the Black – or Brown, I cba to remember; a birdshit-splattered colleague.  Gollum was very well done, as was Bilbo’s hobbit-hole and the Shire.  But…

I’m sure when I read the book all those years ago I had a clear idea of what it was all about: what the dwarves were going to do and why, where they were going and what for, and what they had to do when they got there.  But this film meandered plot-less for three whole hours! in a welter of set-pieces; orcs come and are driven off and come back again; a set of undifferentiated dwarves fall in a clump in a variety of spectacular ways, there are mountains and caves and gorges and fragile bridges and forests and I know not what – but we don’t have much idea of what it’s all for.  Sporn son of Sprain (or whatever the chief dwarf’s name was) strains his corrugator muscle to maintain a stern brow throughout whilst the other dwarves are undifferentiated and frankly a bit Snow White-ish at times.  Bilbo gets the Ring from Gollum and uses it to escape, but it’s never explained, nor mentioned again – in fact the whole thing resembles nothing so much as a computer game with good graphics* and seemed unable at times to make its mind up what kind of film it was, what with Harry Potter-ish spiders in the woods and troll-bogeys on Bilbo’s cloak.  Cate Blanchett was good as Galadriel but had only 3 minutes of time – and was the only female character; the elves were frankly boring and in the end I nearly fell asleep.
So don’t bother.  Unless of course you like films that resemble X-box games.
Hobbits notwithstanding, it was a goodish Christmas.  With both children at home we woke at the crack of 7.15 and opened presents in bed (I got a Carol Ann Duffy book and some socks with separate toes) then we had the usual Xmas fare with nut roast and sausages, Xmas pud and mince pies; the Queen’s speech went in one ear and out again  and after a short flahagarzzzz! we were ready for Dr Who.  An odd episode, I thought.  And so to Top of the Pops, biscuits and bed.
Boxing Day passed in a ferment of activity: I got up and did yoga in the park watching the sun peep over the roofs; then home for a fry-up and then a bike-ride up to Gilroes to visit the dead (they send their regards); thence into town for a chai latte and a crossword and home again in time for a mince pie before sallying forth to see the aforementioned Hobbit.
And that was Christmas.
Kirk out
*Mark said they weren’t that good

Tamara and Tamara and Tamara…

Yes, we have caught up with it.  Starring Tamsin Greig (Debbie in the Archers, Fran in Black Books) and Roger Allam (the Queen’s adviser in The Queen) as her unbearable husband, the live-action version of the story is much more entertaining than the cartoon strip which spawned it.  Brilliant though Polly Toynbee is, we did feel that the cartoon did ‘creep in its petty pace from day to day’ – it had terrific characters and great settings but nothing actually happened!  ‘Maybe this week something will happen!’ we used to cry to each other over our Saturday Guardian.  But it never did.  This film, though, is a straight-faced, tongue in cheek romp; the storyteller standing to one side while the characters fall over each other and themselves and the Lord of Misrule has his day.  Of course you are desperate for Fran (that’s not her name but I think of her as Fran) to kick her serial-adulterer husband in the balls as they preside over a writer’s retreat to which he – as an author – brings only kudos while she does all the work.  You dearly long for him to get his come-uppance and he actually does at last.  Trampled to death by stampeding cows with a strong sense of dramatic irony, he leaves Fran to run the place and get both the credit she deserves and the man who admires her.

There’s also a Thomas Hardy theme running through, with Fran as Bathsheba and the handyman as the Gabriel Oak character who is taken for granted and eventually gets his woman.  One of the writers on the retreat is doing a book about Hardy which, if what he puts in is true, shatters a few of my illusions about the man.  I tell you, if Mark takes to dallying with young women in his dotage he will find his balls decorating the Christmas tree.  But he won’t.  God bless him, he’s not Like That.

Anyway, it’s a really fun film, so go watch:

It was followed by take-away pizza (great) and a disappointing evening catching up with Bettina’s philosophy group.  I had envisaged a large table of smiling faces all waiting for me and pleased to see me when I arrived: instead I found one bloke waiting outside as the place was heaving.  We did eventually grab a table but it was very noisy and though five of us eventually turned up it was hard to hear what anyone was saying.  I left early; I did sell a couple of pamphlets, though, which was good.

A busy day awaits: a visit from sister soon, then Daniel will go to Loughborough and we will be bussing to Countesthorpe to visit Holly’s boyfriend.  Then tomorrow will creep in its petty pace once more.


Kirk out

PS  Don’t go shopping whatever you do!

Are you Still There?

Everyone still there?  Good.  So are we all.  Reports of our death greatly exaggerated then.  OK, moving on…

A good had was all by night at the Ale Wagon where I had a friends’ excuse-me; Peter followed by Jan.  All jolly good fun and a brisk walk home in the cold and rain.  Unfortunately the several pints I had last night are now causing a fog in the frontal lobes of my brain and I’m finding it hard to think of anything to say.  In the meantime here is some light music, a poem about that unpronounceable Icelandic volcano a couple of years back and the ash it deposited on car roofs:


Light Music

(for Eyjafjallajokull)

And it brought back to me my childhood

every second thought killed by a scream

of metal straining to get into heaven.

Long, long ago before the Fall

there was a time of peace. Like this

brief moment between thought and Word.

And it seemed to come from hell, the fire and smoke

(and some said Earth was taking her revenge

though others said that stuff was nonsense).

The sweat of vapour gone, the sky is innocent.

Washed. Only the ash Invisible rains down

(as cars are witness).

Now coaches come, trains shuttle, boats ferry. Taxis triumph.

Government inhales:

Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible. Meanwhile here is some light music.

OK there you go.  I’ll leave you with this song parody, for alien believers:

Then I saw her tentacles

now I’m a believer…

Kirk out

No God, Please – We’re British

The original title for this post was ‘Why I don’t tell people I’m a C******n.’  Well , why don’t I?

Here’s why: as soon as you mention the C-word, someone out there is bound to react strongly.  Most people react in one of two ways: the most common way, until recently that is, has been fear and embarrassment: the fear that I might suddenly grab their hand, look lovingly into their eyes and say, ‘God bless you’ with one of those nauseatingly beatific smiles; the embarrassment that would ensue.  I know it happens, but believe me, I ain’t gonna go there cos I’ve had it done to me, and it’s not pretty.  So that’s one reaction and probably the most common.  We are British, after all.  No God here, thank you!  But then more recently, now that atheists, led by their prophet Richard Dawkins, have become more vociferous, it is more common for people to react in a hostile way – as though I might be about to shove my dogma down their throat in some kind of oral rape act.  So that as soon as you mention the C-word you immediately have to issue a series of disclaimers.  I feel like carrying a little list round with me: No, I’m not homophobic.  No, I’m not against other religions *.  No, I’m not anti-abortion.  Anti-yoga?  Hell, no – I used to teach yoga.  And so on – and on…  Frankly, I’d rather just not go there.  So I just don’t mention it.

Now I wouldn’t mind so much if, in person, I were some kind of evangelical pain in the arse; if I went on and on about my faith – if looked into people’s eyes with a beatific smile or evangelised at the drop of a biretta – but I don’t, because I know exactly how annoying that is.  It’s just that sometimes the mildest suggestion of some kind of faith can provoke the same reaction as an evangelistic rant; as though the merest suspicion of proselytising is suspect and must be immediately stamped on.  There’s a lot of hostility out there, and some people seem to think it’s but a step and a hop from vaguely religious sentiment to full-blown intolerant dogma.

Don’t get me wrong.  I understand where it’s coming from – and to some extent historically the churches have only themselves to blame for it.  Even nowadays it’s going on – every time I hear yet another insane comment from the Westboro Baptist Church:

or some intransigent policy statement from the Catholic establishment, I blench.  And I groan.  Because that’s not me.  But I’d rather not have to keep saying so: I’d rather not have to keep issuing disclaimers.  And that is why I don’t tell people that I’m a C******n.

Feel free to post embarrassed or hostile comments.  LOL.  And check out this vid from Mark in which he claims that Jesus is on the side of the atheists:

Today I shall be mostly… going for a walk and not having coffee with Helen.

Kirk out

*in fact I think they are all paths to God

Year and Carols

Beer and Carols last night was a fun event – a packed Western hosted a brass band and keyboard with kazoos, garglers and impromptu descants.  Sadly we did not do my favourite carol which I reproduce below.  Still it was a fun evening and I saw some people I hadn’t seen for a while.  And so to bed…

But yesterday, since I’m not working this week, I did something different and seasonal.  Some wise person on Facebook said that instead of having ‘to do’ lists we should all make ‘I did it’ lists – lists of things we’ve actually achieved rather than focussing on what remains to be done.  I thought this was a brilliant idea and so I scanned this blog for things I’ve done so far this year.  I’ve only got as far as August but here are some highlights:

Did ‘Sing for Water’

Picked blackberries and made wine

Published a short story

Performed poetry in loads of places

Published a poetry pamphlet

Did poems at Calligraphy group and craft group

And read, read, read – loads of stuff including Kathy Reichs, Andy McNab, Ian Rankin, Stella Rimmington, Hilary Mantel, JK Rowling and many, many more.

It would be good to have a complete list of books I’ve read this year but I don’t think they’re all on this blog, and though I used to keep a notebook with lists and comments on books I’d read, I don’t any more.  Perhaps I should go back to that.  At the moment I’m reading The Life of Pi.

I think it’s good but, to be honest, not THAT good – in fact I’m struggling to see why it won the Booker Prize.  There is no comparison with, say, Hilary Mantel who is a genius and thoroughly deserves any prize she gets.

Pleb or not Pleb?

So, normally in these cases I have a reasonable idea of what to think.  If there’s a dispute between the police and, say, CND demonstrators, I believe the demonstrators – usually because I’m one of them.  If there’s a dispute between the police and football fans over what happened I’d be more inclined to believe the fans but I’d probably think there were faults on both sides.  But when a police officer on duty outside Downing St says that a cabinet minister called him a pleb, I believe him.  And now it turns out he might have made it all up.

I can’t stand this kind of thing.  The thought of having to believe a Conservative Chief Whip‘s account of things is just utterly abhorrent to me…

So that’s it.  I sold another 6 poetry pamphlets last night and have just a handful left.  If you want one you’ll have to be quick or else get the e-version:

And finally, here is my favourite Christmas carol:

Oh hum, all ye faithful

Oh, hum all ye faithful

Doubtful and neglectful

Oh hum ye

Oh hum  ye

the words ye do not know.

Hum and forget them

Christmas song and sentiments

And hum it very quietly

And hum it slightly louder

Now hum it out with gusto

The tune, the bit ye know.

Kirk out