Moan the Lawn

I have never known anyone make so much fuss and do so little work, as Mark faced with the task of mowing the lawn.  I will admit that the new lawn-mower, being a freebie, doesn’t cut it like the old one did; but even so, it’s not that hard.  But he huffs and he puffs and he totally sucks at mowing the lawn!  He does a strip and can’t see where to line up the next one and he complains SO MUCH! that I eventually grab the mower from him and just do it myself.  Perhaps that was his strategy all along: if so, it’s working.

Still on the plus side he spent much of yesterday tidying, so that can’t be bad.

I had a good weekend, doing a very successful poetry workshop on Saturday called ‘How to Read a Poem’, which was followed by the launch of the People’s Arts Collective in town.  This was great, doing poetry and music in the streets; then on Sunday the Quaker Meeting where I broke my duck and spoke about the sculpture of Jesus on a bench (see previous post); then the children did a performance of The Gruffalo to raise money for Doctors without Borders.  I have now succumbed to a cold and spent much of the day sneezing and moaning, though STILL not as much as Mark moaned about the lawn…

I have now finished the memoir!  Leonard Cohen reckons that poems are not so much finished as abandoned, and I think he’s quite right.  There was a great interview with him on 6 Music (thanks Peter for the heads-up)

and I shall post a proper review of the album on here soon.

Now have to retire to the sofa to do some more moaning before I get in shape for my performance tomorrow.  Come along to the Crumblin Cookie at 8 pm for Women’s Words!

Kirk out

Christ on a Bench

A story has been rumbling on for some weeks now, about a statue of Jesus sleeping on a bench.

Apparently St Martin’s in the Fields, which you would imagine would be its natural home, doesn’t want it.

This seems bizarrely appropriate, somehow, as well as being spectacularly bureaucratic.  The son of man has nowhere to lay his head?

My suggestion is to have it outside but make it a soft Jesus; one you could cuddle up to.  That way people could take a nap and be comforted by Jesus.

Modern interpretations of religious truths are always controversial, as Jesus himself knew.

If Jesus Christ returned today

no-one would recognise her

That’s my contribution to the debate…

Yesterday was busy: I ran a workshop as part of Everybody’s Reading Week.  It was called How to Read a Poem’, about fourteen people came and we had a good time stomping and clapping and chorusing and imagining and discussing.  From there I went straight into town for the launch of the People’s Arts Collective.  This also went very well, with spontaneous performances of poetry, song and speech on Market Street and then an umbrella-dance down Gallowtree Gate.  I missed the umbrella dance as I got separated from people; however by that time I’d had enough and went home to sleep on the sofa…

Kirk in

I’m Sorry I Don’t Give a Clue

I’ve enjoyed I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue for years and listen whenever it comes around, as it inevitably does; but lately I can’t help feeling that it’s succumbing to a bit of an ‘old fart’ tendency.  Not only that, the audience seem so hyped-up that at intervals they actually shout ‘hurray!’ like a bunch of over-enthusiastic Enid Blyton characters, and practically have an orgasm whenever Mornington Crescent is announced.  It’s a shame, because on the whole I like the programme: it has some great ideas, Jack Dee with his deadpan humour has taken over well from Humphrey Lyttleton’s ‘slightly bewildered ringmaster’ act, and it’s just silly, pointless fun.  But I’m getting rather tired of the inevitable Hamish and Dougall who’ll always have had their tea: frankly, it could do with some new blood and a fresh twist of lemon in that cup of tea.  Not to mention a new audience.  What do they give them?

Last night Daniel and I watched an extra, ‘reunion’ episode of Red Dwarf.  These things are rarely a good idea (exceptions include Blackadder and The Vicar of Dibley) and although this had its moments, it definitely jumped the shark when they teleported through a television screen and out into – guess what? – the early twenty-first century.

Oh, no.  We switched off.

The memoir is almost finished.  I know I’ve been saying that for a while now, but it really is.  I’m determined it will be finished by early next week and then October will be preparing for NaNoWriMo.

I’m glad it starts on November 1st otherwise I’d end up awarding myself an endless holiday, like Richard Branson’s employees.  What do you think of that idea?  Interesting, huh?

Kirk out.

PS I am going on holiday.  I may be some time…

Kirk out

Yes, I Do Know the Words to ‘La Bamba’!

Daniel set me off yesterday; I was just wondering what to do for my Spanish session when he came in singing ‘La Bamba’.  I was impressed he knew any of the words as I considered his Spanish to be minimal; after all we only went to Spain once when he was four.

To the uninitiated, ‘La Bamba’ sounds like babbling, so much so that when the record was out ‘knowing the words to La Bamba’ was a standing joke.  It sounds as if the chorus goes ‘ballabababalla bamba!’ whereas once you know Spanish you can decipher it and make out para bailar la bamba, meaning ‘to dance la bamba’.  I have a party-piece all prepared for whenever someone says ‘Who knows the words to La Bamba?’  But no-one ever does.

So here are the words to that song, in Spanish and then in English:

Para bailar la bamba

para bailar la bamba se necesita

un poco de gracia

un poco de gracia para mi, para ti

y arriba, y arriba


Bamba, bamba x 4

Yo no soy marinero

yo no soy marinero, soy capitano

soy capitano, soy capitano

Bamba, bamba x 4

repeat ad lib

And now the deep and meaningful translation:

to dance la bamba

to dance la bamba you need

a little bit of grace

a little bit of grace and something else

come on, come on

bamba, bamba

I am not a sailor, I am a captain…

So now you know, you can sing along:

Kirk out


Popeye and Flagman

Yesterday I went to the Ale Wagon for a meeting about the aftermath of the Scottish referendum.  Jan was going, and I thought it promised to be interesting: however it reneged somewhat on that promise almost as quickly as the British government reneged on its Devo Max promises.  Of which more anon…

The evening was actually somewhat farcical.  First, I turned up at the pub without my glasses and nobody was there.  I only need my glasses for reading, so I could see quite well that the pub was empty; however, I couldn’t see to check the text message I’d got from Jan and confirm the place and time.  I went up to a bloke at the bus stop.  ‘Can you read this for me?’ I said, explaining that my specs were at home on the night-stand.  He read it.  Ale Wagon at 7.30.  While he was reading it, two more texts came from Jan.  The first said Help! and the second said, Meeting upstairs.  Still pondering over why she needed help, I thanked the bloke, collected a half of Hob and made my way upstairs.

Oh dear.  I’d been expecting the usual suspects: some liberal Guardian-reading types, some more down-to-earth socialists and a few nay-sayers.  No such thing: there was an odd assortment of blokes, one of whom had a completely shaven head and who sat draped in a Union Jack.  This did not bode well.

They had a speaker, who was fine; but when the debate began the trouble started.  It was clear that there were some who loved the sound of their own voices – that’s usually the case, but you need a chair who is prepared to shut people up.  This one just let them carry on until they’d run out of steam.  Well; we went around the room, everyone making their speeches or asking their questions; Jan naturally being the most impassioned and the most coherent.  I made a few points, most of which I’ve already made on here, so I won’t sport with your patience by repeating them.  Then it came to the man in the flag.  He’d clearly been gearing himself up throughout the session, and now he was off.  Like a coiled spring he bounded into the air, jabbing his finger to emphasise his points.  It was a rant, and much of it was offensive.  After a few minutes I was reaching the limit of my patience; and when he’d spoken for three times as long as anyone else I could stand no more.  I appealed to the chair to stop him: the chair refused (‘let him have his say’); Jan weighed in on my side, and finally as the guy was still talking we decided to leave.  But no sooner had we got downstairs than one person after another came to apologise for the bloke in the flag; including the flag-bound guy himself, who proceeded to explain exactly why he’d said what he’d said and effectively launching into another rant.  Like Popeye I thought: that’s all I can stands: I can’t stands no more – and I made my way to the other end of the bar, where the barman was also complaining about flagman.  Apparently he goes there every month and he has no manners.

In the end Jan came to join me and we had a chat, but not before two more people had come down to apologise.  I wondered whether we were the first women they’d ever had there and they realised they’d blown it…

Kirk out


Didn’t They Have a Hit in the ’80’s?

Sometimes you get a bit ahead of yourself: I was so caught up in reviews and tasters of the latest Cohen album that I forgot it doesn’t come out till tomorrow!  I wondered why Amazon hadn’t got any…  Not that I want to buy from Amazon; I’m probably going to head into town and get it from an Actual Shop while they still exist – but it’s probably just as well I didn’t go and do that today…

Anyway, I’ve been tinkering with the memoir, finishing off little bits I’m still unhappy with; and when I’d finished I realised it was only four o’clock!  So getting ahead of myself seems to be the theme for today.

With writing the memoir I’ve learned a lot of things.  One is that although I try to write consecutively it doesn’t really work.  You get ahead of yourself and have to go back: for example when I was writing about all the houses I’ve lived in, I got as far as our last one – which I’ve called ‘the house that should have been knocked down’ – and realised I was married with children and I hadn’t even written about meeting Mark yet!  So back I went…

The other thing I’ve learned is that the process of memory, and writing about memory, is cyclical.  You may think you’re going in a straight line, but you’re actually travelling in circles; or perhaps in spirals, where you keep coming back to the same places again and again.  And then of course there is the irony of writing a memoir about memory-loss…

Another way I’ve got ahead of myself today is in reading Don de Lillo.  I’m getting through it, but it’s loooooooooong – about 830 pages, all in American – and I hadn’t realised it was published pre-9/11 so I got a little jolt when he mentions seeing the Twin Towers.  And that started me thinking about Islamic fundies.  Al Qaida were bad enough, but even they think Islamic State are beyond the pale.  What is the matter with these people?  I cannot comprehend them.  I’d say they were hired by Richard Dawkins to make religion look bad, but it’s way beyond that sort of joke.  It’s beyond anything.

So tonight, to take my mind off all that, I’m going to a discussion at the Ale Wagon about Scotland and the aftermath.  It should be interesting; particularly in view of the can of worms Cameron has opened with all this Devo Max stuff.  When an MP for Wiltshire complains that his constituents are being ‘done down’ by deals with Scotland, you know he’s in trouble: it’s one thing to go haring North of the border scattering election promises left, right and centre (sorry, I mean ‘right, right and centre’) – it’s another to go home again and deal with the fallout.

Hm – Devo Max.  Didn’t they have a hit some time in the ’80’s?

Kirk out


Popular Problems

There’s an old man whispering to himself in a corner.  Nobody pays him any attention, but he keeps on singing; and gradually he’s joined by other musicians: a soft-touch percussionist who shush-shushes a brush across a drumskin; a guitar that gently weeps, and then a couple of women who sing in ethereal voices like far-off angels.  And gradually, though you don’t want to listen, you are drawn in, you start to pay attention and you realise that this man knows something ; this man is a prophet; this man, who looks like an anorexic King Lear, is not mad but some kind of guru.  And now you know who it is: this man is Leonard Cohen, and he is singing his latest LP, ‘Popular Problems.’

I always look forward to a new Cohen album, and yet I feel no small measure of trepidation when I put it on to listen.  Will he be the same?  Or will he have lost it?  It would hardly be surprising if at nearly 80, Cohen had lost his voice: but the reason I keep listening is that he never does.  He follows it through desert and wilderness; he tracks it through trackless rocks and over impenetrable forests; through uncharted waters of bitter despair he follows still and he keeps following until he finds it.  So that a new Cohen LP is more than a collection of songs; it’s an encounter; a revelation.  Where is he at now?  What is he thinking, what is he feeling?  It’s constantly fascinating, and will continue to be so until he dies.

Which might be any day now – and yet he keeps on going.

Have a listen:

Kirk out

I Am NOT Nineteenthly!

I’ve been having a couple of doodahs with WordPress recently; first it deleted all my contents when I asked it to save them; then today it refused to post a comment of mine (on my own post, I might add) because it thought I was The Other Half.  I am not nineteenthly!  yet it persisted in saying after I’d written the comment that I was trying to post as him (ie Mark) and that I should add my password.  I don’t know Nineteenthly’s password: even Nineteenthly doesn’t know Nineteenthly’s password any more as Nineteenthly has gone on to pastures new and is probably up to thirty-firstly or forty-secondly by now.*

Incidentally, if you don’t know the story, the name comes from a university professor who realised it was time to stop lecturing when he heard himself say: ‘- and nineteenthly…’  Mark has great trouble explaining things in a few words; hence the name.

Anyway, WordPress absolutely refused to accept that I wasn’t Nineteenthly, so that I was forced to resort to a different browser.  That did the trick.

This weekend feels a bit flat after the last one: there’s not much happening apart from Tomatoes today and church/meeting tomorrow.  There will be a march for Climate Change (or rather, a march against climate change) on Nelson Mandela Park at 12 and that’s about all she wrote – or will write.

Holly, on the other hand, seems to be having a complete social whirl: Facebook is full of photos of her and a group of friends all screaming and holding drinks.


Kirk out

*actually he’s reminded me that his latest incarnation is Zerothly.

Ye’ll Have Had Yer Referendum…

Alas!  With a sigh it’s all over, and from being too close to call it’s gone to a decisive victory for Nay.  The best that can be said about it is that it was conclusive, and that nearly 100% of the electorate, including 16- and 17-year-olds, took part.  But it was 55%-45% in favour of not splitting, and the result, however disappointing, has to be respected: that’s democracy. What will be interesting now is to see how Salmond deals with it (he’s gone for quiet dignity at the moment: a wise decision) and how Cameron will negotiate the devo max promises he made, and get them past his party and the rest of the country.

My own feelings are somewhat mixed.  If I lived in Scotland I would have voted Yes, but I live in England, and the potential fall-out for a truncated country has to be considered.  So although I am disappointed for my Scottish friends, from a personal point of view I am relieved.

As far as writing goes, the memoir is nearly finished, and I am turning my thoughts to what I shall do for NaNoWriMo.

Kirk out

A Tale of Two Countries

This might be about England and Scotland, but it’s not: it’s about Britain and America.  I’ve been reading Don de Lillo and I’ve come to the conclusion that he’s an utterly stonking writer.  But as I commented the other day, some of his prose is just indecipherable.  It doesn’t help that the first chapter is about baseball, a game of which I know nothing apart from the fact that it’s sort of like rounders with attitude: I used to like rounders at school as it was the one sport I was any good at.  I’m quite good at sprinting and rounders was just fun, not too competitive, so it suited me.

Anyway… here’s a sample of a sentence by Don de Lillo which I couldn’t penetrate.

‘When he was doing ghost games he liked to take the action into the stands, inventing a kid chasing a foul ball, a carrot-topped boy with a cowlick (shameless, ain’t I) who retrieves the ball and holds it aloft, stitching, a souvenir baseball, a priceless thing somehow, a thing that seems to recapitulate the whole history of the game every time it is thrown or hit or touched.’

I think I get this sentence now, but only because I’ve read it several times.  So it’s hard work reading this guy, but I think he’s gonna be worth it.

Soooo – it’s the vote today.  We’ve had a range of views on who would vote yes and who would vote no, and why.  Any more before the polls close?

It’s gonna be a near thing…

Kirk oot