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reSenTinG YoUR DArLiNGS

haters gonna hate – even the shit i be proud of, yeah?

die when you die – gg allin

genetLemmy wasn’t that much of a shocker, was it? He’s been deteriorating for the last few years and it’s a tribute to his cast iron constitution that he made it to his seventieth birthday, beating Mick Farren, who ‘only’ made it to sixty-nine, in the process.
Bowie, though? I always kind of thought he’d go on forever, a law unto himself. ‘The next day’ saw him make a superlative comeback, as spot on as he ever was (and a hundred times what he was in the eighties, his nadir, for my money).
And after that astonishing comeback LP, he finds out he’s got the big C – so he plans and executes the ultimate ‘see ya’ note.
I got ‘Blackstar’ the day it came out and on first play, it really wasn’t much good. Proggy noodlings, vague lyrics and yeah, that voice. It took maybe four plays before I groked it – realised it was brilliant and every time I went back to it over the weekend, it grew on me a little more.
I was just about to leave for work on the Monday morning when She-Who-Reckons-She-Should-be-Obeyed told me he’d died. I couldny believe it. It was wrNog information, in a language I couldn’t compute.
Turned out she was right, though. He had perished. I hopped on the train to work and put ‘Blackstar’ on. Again. Suddenly the album, the sombre sense of it, the stark lyrics, it all pointed to someone making their last goodbyes. I started welling up.
After Hendrix died, people started to look for premonitions of his mortality in his lyrics, particularly those of ‘Electric ladyland’, which are so open ended, you could probably find mentions of personal computers,  mobile phones and Internet porn in there if you looked hard enough.  ‘Blackstar’, though?
Bowie had known of his cancer for eighteen months. The entire planning and execution of this LP must have been done with the great dark cloud hanging over him. And he still went out, every inch the showman. He primed us with the the single (all ten minutes of it) gave us the LP for a weekend and then let go, leaving without an encore, the LP in its entirety, his last word on the subject.
Even Cecil Parkinson’s death wasn’t enough to cheer me up after the loss of Lemmy, Bowie, Boulez and Buffin. Why oh why, is Death harvesting my record collection instead of panelists on ‘Question time’?

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do it again – steely dan

kiyoko99% of fiction, I’ll read once and never consider going back to. William S Burroughs, I can reread, mostly down to the gorgeous ‘poetry’ of his prose. I am, after all, a schemie. The urban poor. I object to poetry. It undermines my manhood.
When I got my first e-reader, back in 2011, practically housebound with Post Viral Fatigue Syndrome, the first thing I did was reread a fairly random fistful of novels I’d read back in the day. Oddly (and again, fighting off this PVFS) I’m rereading some of my favourite fiction authors. Hubert Selby jr, Irvine Welsh and Jean Genet being the first three to hand.
The Selby novels I’ve long meant to return to – and on the second serving, everything I remember is there. The plotting, the sheer stark inarticulacy (or directness) – it’s like speed-reading Ramones lyrics. Being thirty years older, I’m spotting completely different things than I did the last time I read these.
I had a similar experience, rereading Mishima’s ‘Seas of Fertility’ quartet a few years ago. Reading it at seventeen/eighteen, I identified with Kiyoake (and his various incarnations) after all, I was that age, weak and sickly as he was at the end of ‘Spring snow’ and stubborn and principled as Isao from ‘Runaway horses’ and the others…
Returning to the work at forty-nine/fifty, it was Honda I immediately recognised myself in. A financially comfortable, but slowly decaying old perve, almost but not quite able to touch life.
The Welsh books are actually a lot different to how I remember them. ‘The acid house’, in particular, reads a lot better now I’m twenty years older. I always remembered it as quite jagged, thrown together like a band trying to cram everything into their debut LP. Half of it read like exercises from his writing group – and the other fifty percent was brilliant.
I just went back to ‘The thief’s journal’ this afternoon and already, I’m re-hooked on the fragility of Genet’s writing. I haven’t read a lot of his work since I was maybe nineteen, twenty. Although ‘Funeral rites’, I didn’t get around to til about twenty-four, twenty-five.
There’s rarely time to revisit great fiction, so when I do, it’s often like falling back into somewhere familiar-ish, but this time, with better hearing and eyesight, ironically enough.

read it in books – echo and the bunnymen

wreckersHere’s my self-indulgent list of all the books I read last year. I’m not looking forward to this list falling into the hands of headcare professionals, I can tell you!

05 i 15 – the ghost – robert harris
09 i 15 – the secret history of rock – roni sarig
09 i 15 – like a corset undone – erotic steampunk anthology
16 i 15 – anger is an energy – john lydon
16 i 15 – Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea – jules verne
25 i 15 – the girl in the steel corset – kady cross
26 i 15 – person-hair (draft) – jess hopkins
29 i 15 – dead girl walking – Christopher Brookmyre
30 i 15 – tis – frank mccourt

05 ii 15 – assimilate – reed s Alexander
07 ii 15 – the corpse garden – colin wilson
15 ii 15 – the apocalypse codex – charles stross

04 iii 15 – the shipping news – e annie proulx
27 iii 15 – fool the world – josh frank & carlyn ganz

24 iv 15 – david copperfield – charles dickens
26 iv 15 – a decent ride – Irvine Welsh
28 iv 15 – blood on snow – jo nesbo

02 v 15 – clothes music boys – viv albertine
04 v 15 – thunderball – ian fleming
15 v 15 – the art of asking – amanda palmer
18 v 15 – person-hair (draft) – jess hopkins
26 v 15 – the establishment – owen jones
26 v 15 – psychopathic cultures and toxic empires – will black

02 vi 15 – searching for wanda – elise sutton
10 vi 15 – nick drake – patrick humphries
13 vi 15 – ham on rye – charles bukowski
13 vi 15 – Taken in the Dark of Night – daniel howard
23 vi 15 – unknown pleasures – peter hook
23 vi 15 – prague fatale – philip kerr
26 vi 15 – armadillo fists – carlton mellick lll

04 vii 15 – the hacienda – peter hook
25 vii 15 – shock doctrine – naomi klein

04 viii 15 – chavs – Owen Jones
17 viii 15 – post-capitalism – paul mason
21 viii 15 – the rhesus chart – Charles Stross
25 viii 15 – america’s favourite son – gg allin
31 viii 15 – apathy for the devil – nick kent

05 ix 15 – the man who led zeppelin – chris welch
08 ix 15 – clusterfuck – carlton mellick lll
12 ix 15 – London calling – ga ponsonby
15 ix 15 – fear and smear – pat anderson
17 ix 15 – the witch must burn – danielle paige
19 ix 15 – Taken in the Dark of Night – daniel howard

04 x 15 – last exit to Brooklyn – hubert selby
11 x 15 – trainspotting – Irvine Welsh
12 x 15 – killing charlie – wensley clarkson
19 x 15 – the acid house- Irvine Welsh

07 xi 15 – captivate – corrie garratt
18 xi 15 – journey to the centre of the cramps – dick porter
27 xi 15 – the hell of it all – charlie brooker

07 xii 15 – the girl in the spider’s web – David Lagercrantz
13 xii 15 – listen to this – victor svorinich
14 xii 15 – I was a murder junkie – evan cohen
22 xii 15 – future days – david stubbs

Fifty-four books in twelve months. I should really get out of the house a bit more, maybe join an evening class or something.

broken man – status quo

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I haven’t posted in here (or pretty much anywhere else) for ages. The truth is, I’ve been falling to bits since November of 2014, when I went down with a couple of bugs within a day or two of each other.
Then, I was off work for five weeks and ever since, I’m getting exhausted after short periods of effort. It’s a bit like a hangover – plus a speed comedown – except it’s lasted over a year now.
I’m still writing – and working – but between them, that’s all my energy spoken for.
With David Hameron’s banning of all barely legal highs as of April fools’ day, my new year’s resolution is that, from now on, it simply must be class A or not at all. After all, why risk consuming drugs the government keep telling us are terrible, when the dark net is paved with good old fashioned non-scheduled intoxicants we know – from years of experience – to be completely benign?
Joking aside, my strategy for 2016 is to teach myself to revise fiction. Properly this time. Since 2011, I’ve wrung out three first drafts a year and by now, I reckon I’m pretty damn good at it. I love the adrenaline rollercoaster of a first draft, fifty K in thirty days. Revision, though…
Shitting them out is easy. Polishing these turds I’m so proud of is far more difficult. It feels like hard work, ploughing the same ugly furrow for little or no return – when I’m already bored with it.
In the last month, I’ve ground my way through last July’s novel, ‘Wifies’ and have started on one, ‘Person hair’ I wrote a couple of years back. The plan is to complete these and get them out there by the end of 2016. Cameron, Trump and ISIS willing, of course.

Ah want ti be – Sandie Craigie

I’m planning out a follow-up novel. When I wrote ‘1919’, it was all one story, it was just too fat so I split it in half before shoving it out. For July’s NaNoCamp, I wrote the draft of a novel set in Edinburgh in the 1990s and now I’m extending it, picking up some loose ends and, hopefully, developing them.
In some ways, I’m feeling a bit painted into a corner, I can’t just let my imagination run wild, as I could with the first part (working title: ‘Wifies’). This time, everybody’s already got their hair-colour, eyes, jobs and sexual preferences. Everything has to grow out of what came before, all those set-in-stone factoids I had so much fun dreaming up last time. So I’m approaching this one, baw-deep in limitations already.
That said, I’m genuinely fond of several of my characters. The ‘shite friend but a great fuck’ and the battered wife, for starters. Since about June, they’ve been talking to me, hanging around my house pished, bitching about each other – and they’re almost all smokers, the bastards. Much more of this and I’ll start casting the movie in my head, the way normal people do with ‘American tabloid’!
Before I started’ Wifies’, I created dossiers for my six main characters. So far, I’ve spotted four I’ll need to create for this one. Should take me about a week.

p.i.g.s.w.i.l.l – scraping foetus off the wheel

Puerile middle-aged adolescent that I am, I have thoroughly enjoyed #Piggate. Of course, without forgetting that it’s hardly the worst abuse Kermit Hameron and his chums have been party to.

I’ve been saying for months that there’s something fishy about the whole Westminster paedophile ring soap opera. Why on earth is there so many of them? I’ve met a lot of people in my time and can only think of one who’s done time for sexually abusing a kid. And the victim was one of their own kids – not a stranger. And, this individual was, at the time, suffering from Korsakov’s syndrome.

So how come there’s such a huge percentage of politicians and media figures intent on playing before there’s grass on the pitch? And snuffing them afterwards, if there’s nothing but repeats on TV? And only then, coming up with the symptoms of dementia?

If Lord Ashcroft is to be believed, Hameron experienced this sexual humiliation as part of an initiation into a club for future rulers of the good ship HMS Britain. And our beloved and trusted security services seem to be baw-deep in the Dolphin Square goings on.

Mibby – just mibby – piggate isn’t a revelation of Mmmm Davish’s desire to pork scratchings. Rather, these ritualised humiliations are a lot closer to a process of blackmail – controlling the lawmakers in order that the ‘right’ laws are enacted ‘n’ enforced.

People being plied with drugs, then encouraged to fuck kids on camera. In that position, I reckon I’d be more than happy to do as the guy holding the photos said – so long as there was a chance of him keeping them to himself. And I imagine our media and politicians are at least that smart.

road warrior – the dave howard singers

Last night I watched ‘Mad Max – Fury Road’, or at least, I put up with the first hour of it. Colour me old-fashioned if you will, but when someone says ‘film’ to me, I imagine a meshing together of things like plot, characters, emotional involvement and some kind of interest in events as they unfold. This had none of these, that I could see. The audio-visual equivalent of a stranger ramming a handful of cutlery into your face while they giggle hysterically.

What it did have was flames, revving engines and explosions. After sixty minutes of this sort of thing, it struck me that I cared little or not at all about any of the characters. I didn’t like even one of them enough to want them to succeed and/or live and I didn’t even hate anyone enough to hope they’d die, perish or be gang-fucked by rabid baboons. So I left the room, abandoning the people I was undergoing it with and washed some dishes. Exciting dishes. Brilliant dishes with beginnings, middles and ends. And when I’d eked them out as long as I could, I returned to watch someone having his face torn off and Tom Hardy giving Charlize Theron (looking even rougher than she did in ‘Monster’) a sad half-smile and pissing off, bringing some sort of God-accursed sequel that much more likely.

To be honest, I didn’t much care for the original ‘Mad Max’ trilogy. The first two I found boring and the final one was just plain brain-damaged. I failed to understand how anyone around me – and there were plenty of them, recommending this crap and smiling like Jehovah’s Witnesses – imagined these were in any way ‘good’. About all they did was unleash a then youthful Mel Gibson on the world. Giving them the cultural significance of the gravestone that whispered at Peter Sutcliffe, telling him it was time to start killing women.

That said, ‘Mad Max – Fury Road’, to its credit, does not feature either Tina Turner or Angry Anderson. But then, neither does ‘Emmanuelle in space’. Or the new Aldi that’s opened in Cowdenbeath. Which, unlike this millstone of the cinema, I could see me putting myself through again.

shockwork – test dept

I realise I haven’t written anything about writing for a while. Last November, my health collapsed – right in the middle of NaNoWriMo – and I ended up taking five weeks off work, as well as really struggling to finish the book I was working on.

Since then, my health has been intermittent, to say the least. Any exertion and I’m flat on my back for anything from a couple of hours to a couple of days.

Still, I finished the bastard. And in April, I managed to drag myself though another (my take on the steampunk novel) and in July, I completed the first draft of a fairly ambitious project – in Scots.

Steampunk seemed like an interesting genre to subvert, given my hatred of what that nice Mr Major used to call ‘Victorian values’ and recent events coming to light through Exaro News and other public services. Anyway, it’s lying fallow just now, until I find the time to sit down with it and give it a good polish.

I haven’t written anything in the Scots tongue since I left Edinburgh for Liverpool, almost ten years ago. Surrounded by Merseyside – and Manchester – accents, there seemed little point in trying to recapture the speech patterns I only ever heard on my holidays.

I returned to Scotland, settling in Fife in 2010 and the following year, I discovered NaNoWriMo.

At present, I’m revising July’s novel, which *should* see the light of day sometime next year. And, writing the skeleton of November’s NaNoWriMo novel. And, when I can, polishing an earlier work, the follow-up to ‘Ladies and Gentleman’.

things can only get better – d:ream

I’m writing this on Friday – that’s last week to you. The Labour leadership results will have been announced over twenty-four hours ago. At present, nobody (apart from Burnham, Cooper, Kendal, Cameron, Osborne and the like) are predicting anything other than a Corbyn landslide.

Of course, for the great unhosed – and particularly in Scotland – the idea of a Labour man running the ‘Labour’ party is up there with Santa, elves, goblins and “I swear I won’t come in your mouth again this time.”

Unless the security services have managed to smear Corbyn with sex and/or drug allegations, the token lefty might just be now sitting in the seat last warmed by the human Miliband.

Corby’s said that, although violently opposed to Scottish independence, he’s prepared to work with the SNP to oppose the neoliberals and their narrative. And he believes Tony Blair should be tried (if not tarred and feathered) as a war criminal.

I haven’t always voted, but when I have, I’ve voted labour, right up until to May this year. With Corbyn at the helm of the Labour party, I’m going to have to think about voting SNP in future.

Which brings me to the single best thing about a Corbyn-led labour party. If he’s prepared to work with the SNP, then that’ll keep the SNP on the left and narrow. Win-win. Except for Burnham, Cooper, Kendal, Cameron and Osborne, obviously.

In the mid-nineties, a friend and I were talking about the shipwreck that was the last days of the Major government. A never-ending parade of increasingly ludicrous sex scandals, with public confidence dropping through the negative numbers like a fucked lift.

“The tories,” my mate said. “Are collapsing in on themselves. They’ve been in power so long, they’re rotten to the core.”

And that’s where the neoliberal agenda is now. Even its victim,s who bought into it up to this point, are starting to question the validity of a system that devours everything in its path, leaving nothing but billionaires.

Fingers crossed.

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