Thursday, 14 December 2017

Confessional - How Can Artists Confront Death in their Work?


I have two great passions in my life; being a parent and writing fiction. And I will have both snatched away from me at some point in the future (or sooner if Alzheimer's strikes at the core of me). So my passions, my loves, as with anybody's, has death and cessation at the other end of its lens.

We all die, hardly a blinding insight Marc. While that is of course true, I have been stricken with that awareness for virtually all of my life. Most people function fully because they never think of death in their daily lives, until maybe they start approaching it in their old age. Me, I think of it almost every day.

We are all exposed to death, introduced in childhood through the death of pets and grandparents. Me, I had a cat who lived until he was 23 and the first of my grandparents didn't pass until I was 18. So I wasn't prematurely exposed through the customary course of events. 

Young children with plastic imaginations are very suggestible to terrors and assaults on their body's integrity, even if they don't fully understand the ramifications. My own young son given a lesson at school on food health, including dangerous levels of salt intake, consequently went on to develop an eating disorder since he shunned food on the basis of its salt content or sell-by date under his own investigations, as his fearful imagination ran wild. I had a similar experience that instilled in me the awareness of my death and cessation at the age of 6. 

My bedroom abutted my parents' and my Dad always like to listen to BBC Radio 4 at such a volume I could hear the BBC enunciation clearly through the bedroom walls. At about 10pm the programme he was listening too announced that some people would not be waking up from their night's sleep next morning and - here it gets a bit hazy, I think somehow the actual words got conflated with my own childish imagination - this was because they would have turned into dragons. Terrified of the possibility of never waking up again, I kept myself awake through the rest of the night. Thereby not only catalysing a preternatural awareness of death, but also laying the seeds for a lifetime of insomnia. After all, if you're terrified of surrendering to the great unconsciousness that is death, that also may make it a might trickier to surrender to it even on a temporary basis in the form of the unconsciousness of sleep. 

So I was, and have always been terrified of death. Just to be clear, not the act of passing itself which to me is a minor detail no matter how agonising or supported by loved ones gathered around. (Both of which were the case with the death of my beloved grandmother, as the congestion in her lungs led her to two hours of agitated motion around her hospital bed trying to free up her breathing, wrenching her hands from ours in her distress). No, I'm talking about the eternal cessation, unconsciousness and dreamless sleep that is death's annihilation of the self. *

So how does this black hole awaiting me and all of us actually manifest itself in my daily life? Well it's not every minute of every day as that would clearly reduce me to a gibbering wreck. But I would say the awareness strikes me at least once a day, sometimes more. It can be simply looking at my son and feeling crushed that we will be parted permanently, or something on TV, or even no particularly conscious prompt at all, it just comes upon me. And such an awareness drags you immediately out of your immediate state of consciousness and into another, overwhelming one that blots out all other thought and offers only a single emotion - terror. 

The only way to combat it for me, is to counter blot it out. Not by thinking nice things like flowers or gambolling lambs since they too will inevitably succumb to death, but by sort of overloading my brain with an internally generated white noise. I say white noise because it is not constructed of any rational thoughts, but literally a buzzing interference (are these brainwaves I have no idea?). There is no telling how long these are required to go on for in order to tamp back down the mortal thoughts, but somehow the terror subsides. Using one void to efface another. In such a state, I can do nothing else. 

So much for the distinct incidences of mortal awareness. It also pervades so much (if not everything) about my life as a whole. On a mundane level, I don't fly, am not particularly drawn to speed or other activities where your feet leave the ground. Yes I know you can get hit by a car when crossing the road, but then my optician died in a skiing accident... Though I have always written about death a lot in my work, yet as I wax on into my 50's I have found this year to be dominated by writing stories about ageing, infirmity and death. If Picasso had blue and red periods, I seem to be in a literary equivalent, my death period. (It is only interrupted by a body of stories about the wider politics of the world, which the way things are heading represents a global scale of extinction, so form a parallel version in many ways). 

So far so depressing right? I may even be a depressive (there is a family history of quite a spectrum of mental illness and mental conditions). We'll get to the contrary in a moment and even throw in a bit of fun. But if I am a depressive, I must be a reasonably high functioning one, almost never missing a day's work through sickness and having turned out 10 books and been the main child rearer to my twins, including coaching their youth football team for 3 years. Suicide is not an option for me, because I am so terrified of death I could never hasten my appointment with it. I don't mean this flippantly, I cleaned my father's blood off the kitchen floor after his serious suicide attempt that left him hospitalised and strapped to his bed to prevent him repeating the act... 

How do I cope with my own internal terror? Largely through comedy and a sense of the absurd. When the terror of death is your ultimate emotional scalar, most other anxieties abounding in life seem insignificant and indeed I remain imperturbable in the face of most of life's foibles & travails. I can go a stage further, I can derive the absurd about them. I am not ashamed to say that most things we human beings get aerated about I find amusing, including those of my own doing. I can defang most things in life and derive a measure of mental calm accordingly. It is the counterbalance to the deep core of terror that lies just beneath.

However there is also a serious side to absurdity. As stated above, the human condition is absurd: whatever relationships you form and whatever you build or achieve materially, will be sundered from you. Maybe that's more tragic than absurd, but Samuel Beckett seemed to find it the latter. (Indeed tragedy derives from hubris, that is human beings daring to get above themselves and approach the semi-divine, destined to failure because humans can never aspire to the immortal). 

I also find it absurd that more people are not as terrified of death on a daily basis as I am. It should pervade each of us as per our human condition. Now I understand fully why this isn't the case, because it would utterly impair daily functioning. Not to do so is actually a pretty good coping mechanism. But the downside of this is that we are largely left both unprepared and unreconciled (except for the fortunate few of deep faith or those blessed by a 'happy death') for our own demise (or the death of a close loved one). And also we don't necessarily work back from the end point to consider what the purpose/meaning (if any) of life is. Death really ought to preface and put all the rest of life into context. 

So I in addition to the outburst of white noise moments, I have also erected a system of mirrors that keep conceptualisation of death reasonably remote; I write about it and I derive humour around the margins of what it leaves us in life. And contrary to the idea of possibly being depressive, I actually enjoy life and am amused by it. But as I grow old, I seem to have reached a stage where these refractions are unravelling. As you notice slight changes in the body's elasticity, it's harder to keep awareness of sometime impending death at bay. Will my sense of humour continue to immure me against a slowly failing body? I doubt it. You realise it is just a form of misdirection, of your own conscious thought.

I am proud of everything I've written, but literature while it can move us, always retains an intellectual element; that of the material having to be ordered into a narrative, word choice, the rules of grammar, editing etc. And such an intellectual element necessarily introduces a distance no matter how slight. I've written about death a lot so far, but I can't help feeling that the intellectual part of the approach leaves me falling short of really getting to grips with Death. All art metaphoricalises its material, and metaphor is just another refracting mirror so that you're not directly confronting Death, just as we cannot stare directly at the sun. 

And yet to go deeper invites the phenomenon that requires my white noise response to be ongoing throughout the duration of any such writing project. That way lies only madness. Probably. Do I undertake such an endeavour, with the potential risks to mental health attached? I don't feel I have any choice, not that I have a project currently in mind to broach this with. I don't have a choice because the physical process is clearly in motion anyway (I say this as someone who in my 54 years to date has had the incredible fortune/ genes to have never had to spend a single night in a hospital. But the markers of decline, however slow, are evident to me. 

Watch this space...

* Does perhaps technology offer us modes of cheating death? It's a possibility, but uploading one's entire stock of memories to some sort of smart interface does not preserve life. It would solely be an existence as newsreel, that is unreflexive and static; the essential 'you' would have no real relationship to the memories, unable to add to them. I imagine it would be like a form of Alzheimer's, where the active relationship to your memories is split asunder, so that you are cast adrift from them; the memories are preserved, they still exist, but they no longer are 'your' memories, because that 'you' has ceased to exist in any meaningful way.





Friday, 10 November 2017

Alternative UK Citizens Test -

People from abroad who want to seek British Citizenship have to sit a test of 24 questions, drawn from a booklet chockfull of factual errors. The chapters of the booklet cover the following:

"Values and Principles of the UK" -  a task any indigenous Briton would find hard to define and politicians certainly struggle with, particularly when trying to define and legislate against extremism opposed to British values.

"A Long And Illustrious History", which a) is a rather Whiggish view of British history and b) presumably stops at around 1948 or the late 1960s at best, cos there ain't been all that much illustrious since.

"A Modern Thriving Society", our infrastructure is largely still Victorian rather than modern and as for thriving...? I bet you spat your tea when you read that right, given austerity and the complete amputation of our social services.

But fair's fair and we British love a sense of fair play (allegedly). If people from outside the UK have to demonstrate their love and knowledge of our nation as proof of Britishness, then so should our indigenous natives. Especially since they have loudly asserted it in the recent Brexit referendum, proclaiming we want our sovereignty back.

So here is a test for autochthonous (look it up) citizens to take, in order to prove they merit living in our beloved country. Answers at the end.


Q1 Where was the Patron Saint of England born?

Q2 Which of the Home Countries' flags is not contained in the Union Jack?

Q3 To the nearest full year, how many of his ten year reign did King Richard The Lionheart spend in England?

Q4 Which writer is known as "The Father Of English History"?

Q5 Who were Gog and Magog and which legendary founder of England battled them?

Q6 After which post-Roman occupation tribe is England named and which part of England still bears their original name?

Q7 Name 3 Imperial Weights and Measure units which are double entendres

Q8  When did slavery cease in Britain?

Q9 What percentage of the globe's landmass was covered in the pink of the British Empire at its height?

Q10 What language does the word Blighty derive from?

Q11 King Henry VIII's notion of empire was a Britain independent of continental Europe and the Papacy in particular. His daughter Queen Elizabeth I was persuaded to expand the concept into what we understand today by the term 'empire'. Which mathematician, magician, wife-swapper and alchemist persuaded her to this expanded concept of empire?

Q12 Who was the first Englishman to translate and publish the Bible from Latin into English?

Q13 Which of these authors didn't write a version of the Arthurian Grail legend?
a) Thomas Malory
b) Alfred Lord Tennyson
c) Edmund Spenser
d) John Milton

Q14 Before the introduction of all-seater stadia, several grounds had a 'Kop' open-aired terrace. After which colonial battle in which colonial war were such ends named after?

Q15 The great engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel's Christian names were patronymic (Isambard) and matronymic (Kingdom).  What country did his father come from?

Q16 Who was Joseph Chamberlain and what was his proposed "Triple Alliance" based on?

Q17 Which languages have contributed the most words to modern English vocabulary - put the top 5 in order of contribution:

Celtic
Norse/ Danelaw Danish
Anglo-Saxon
Latin
Norman/ French
Dutch
Hindi/Persian
Arabic
Hebrew/Yiddish
Jamaican Patois
Ancient Greek

Q18 Of the 67 "Distinguished Flying" Medals awarded, how many were won by Poles and other non-British and Commonwealth airmen? 

Q19 Which Briton was Washington Irvine describing here?
"(A) plain, downright, matter-of-fact fellow, with much less of poetry about him than rich prose. There is little of romance in his nature, but a vast deal of a strong natural feeling. He excels in humour more than in wit; is jolly rather than gay; melancholy rather than morose; can easily be moved to a sudden tear or surprised into a broad laugh; but he loathes sentiment and has no turn for light pleasantry. He is a boon companion, if you allow him to have his humour and to talk about himself".

Q20 The image of Britannia (shown on an old penny below) as the female personification of Britain, comes from a goddess from which culture? (Clue, the Union Jack on the shield is a much latter addition).

Answers:

A1 The man who would become St George was a Roman soldier born in a Roman governed province of Turkey. He had absolutely no interaction with the Britain of the time, but we patronised him for our saint because of that whole slaying a dragon mythology. The Cross of Saint George was established in the 15th Century, somewhat retrospectively from his lifetime.

A2 The Welsh. Wales has been united with England the longest of all the four home countries, which meant when the Union flag was formed in 1606, it wasn't a separate kingdom but a mere principality, hence its exclusion.

A3 A big fat zero. At best it's estimated he spent 6 months in England, too busy fighting the Crusades, escaping from captivity and shoring up his French royal responsibilities.

A4 The Venerable Bede. A partial history to be sure, but then what history isn't?

A5 Gog and Magog were giants with associations to the Old Testament and were slain by Brutus; no, me neither... Effigies of Gog and Magog are paraded annually in the Lord Mayor of London's parade.

A6 The Angles and we still call it East Anglia even today. They were a Germanic tribe from
Denmark / Northern Germany (The Angles that is, not East Anglians).

A7 Take your pick: rod; perch: pole: peck

A8 As reported last week, slavery still goes on in Britain to this day. Legislatively, it was supposedly abolished in 1833.

A9 24% of the world's inhabited landmass, with 23% of the world's population of the time were under British rule.

A10 Hindi, from the word 'bilayati' meaning 'the country', as in the home country.

A11 John Dee was an official advisor to Queen Elizabeth. Alchemist, occult philosopher et al, you can read about him here.

A12 William Tyndale. The first copies were ceremoniously burned in St Paul's Cathedral as heretical texts. Tyndale was forced to flee to the continent and never set foot in Britain again. He was eventually captured and executed by the Pope's forces. On the plus side, he was front and central in John Foxe's "Book Of Martyrs" an equally crucial propagandist piece of work establishing English as the language of formal record instead of Latin, paving the way for its standardisation of form.

A13 d) John Milton, he went route one on the redeemer/saviour/hero front, in portraying Jesus rather than Arthur or Gawain or Lancelot.

A14 The 1900 Battle of Spion Kop from the Boer War. So named because of the steep slope upwards resembled the hill at the centre of the battle.

A15 Marc Isambard Brunel was French. He preferred to be called by his middle name. A fine engineer in his own right. Isambard derives from Norman French for "Iron Bright", so a bit of nominative determinism for an engineer working in iron and steel.

A16 Joseph Chamberlain was an MP and Cabinet Minister who crossed the floor of Parliament (changed party allegiances, as did Oswald Mosley). He was the father of Neville.
The Triple Alliance was a proposed alliance between the UK, America and Germany based on race - saying

a new Triple Alliance between the Teutonic race and the two great trans-Atlantic branches of the Anglo-Saxon race which would become a potent influence on the future of the world."

A17 Latin & Norman French both come in at about 29%, followed by Anglo-Saxon at 26%, Greek at 6% and then you can't split Dutch, Norse/Danelaw Danish, though the latter are mainly made up of place names in Britain.

A18 There were 8 of the 67 "Distinguished Flying Medals" awarded to non British and Commonwealth airmen: 5 Poles, a Norwegian, an Icelander and a Czech, all of whom took on the Luftwaffe. As Churchill said, "Never was so much owed to by many to so few".

A19 John Bull. He was replaced as an "Everyman" figure by Tommy Atkins from the trenches of World War One. In the social media age, hard to maintain the concept of an everyman speaking and representing us all.

A20 Britannia was what the Romans called the four parts of their colony below Hadrian's Wall and Britannia became embodied as a Roman goddess. The Corinthian helmet she sports is the clue.

Ratings:
1-5 correct answer - You know more about your country than the average UKIP member
6-10 correct answer - Call yourself a patriot?
11-15 correct answers - Call yourself a nationalist?
16-20 correct answers - Call yourself a racist?



Bleed For Me - Flash Fiction


Cascading blood occludes his wound from my gaze
Scrabbling with my hands to excavate the crimson glaze
Two ring fingers stumble into the crevice of the gash
Now it’s my very own flesh veiling the slash
I bring the bloodstained tips up to my lips
Flick out my tongue like a skittish thrips
Wincing at the cupric sting salted mix 
Elliptical drips floor splash sero-eclipsed
The weep has ceased
His soul finally released
I rake his trunk up to my breast
Clench him fiercely against my chest
The glutting blood abutting my chemise
Blotting an etched scarlet frieze by degrees
Singularly my overhanging cornice so engraved
My navel neath twin promontories unscathed
I demand to match the exact contours of your wound
Attune you to see why my blade had you harpooned
How very dare you withhold your pain self-seeking
Matching weddings rings demand we share everything

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Last Night A DJ Saved My (And Your) Life - Flash Fiction




Satan’s royalties had dried up. Despite Milton giving him a fair shake of the whip and though a bit anthropomorphic, William Blake had etched him a reasonably fair hand. Baudelaire’s litanies had promised much but turned out a complete bust and don’t even get him started on Screwtape. But since then, nothing. While his other nourishment stream of human souls had also become completely debased. What need of an unredeemer when the race had already become utterly irredeemable? Even if it all came straight out of Satan’s own playbook. So much had come to pass from his manifesto, unfortunately just not in his infernal name. He should have created lawyers earlier on in the piece, to sort out copyright.

Trusty Mammon had secured for him a power meeting with an agency to relaunch his moribund career. A reality TV show lay potentially in the wings. “Pro-bono?” Inquired Satan, being down on his uppers. (The fires of Hell were on a timeshare basis to slash running costs). “Nobody is pro-Bono are they? Even God has distanced himself”. “No, I mean gratis, as a Charity account”’ “Charity?” “Well, more a mates’ rates sort of thing. After all did I not create PR and marketing direct from my sulphurous realm?” 

Satan is sitting on a beanbag in Reception, leafing through piles of house clearance auction catalogues. Dreaming of what sort of monarch’s throne he would take possession of.  Something a la mode for the new kingdom of darkness. One that could comfortably cradle his spreading posterior and avoid agitating his accursed haemorrhoids. A dentist’s chair, baby’s bucket carseat, bus station tip-up. Tanning bed recliner, milkmaid’s stool and tuffet, a commode. The Bishop’s cathedra… once profaned with some purgatorial pimping of course. He inquired of the receptionist if he could take the brochure with him for reference. Mammon whispered that it was all online now for his convenience, though Satan murmured that he didn’t get on with the internet what with his bedimmed eyes. Which was why he didn’t have an I-Phone, which Mammon felt a pity, since it could so very easily co-ordinate his revolution to retake Earth at a stroke. 

At last the pair were ushered into the meeting room. The account manager was sat atop a tennis umpire’s chair. “Please, sit down”. “I can do no other” Satan responded, on account of his inflamed lumbago and fiendish sciatica which had condemned him to a sedentary life in the main. Which was probably why you could add piles to his heaps of pathologies. He turned  round to catch sight of a sex harness swing that was the only seating on offer. Mammon dived into the minimal clearance beneath its leather. As Satan scrambled on to the contraption and rocked unsteadily back and forth, Mammon fiddled with the straps and buckles. At least with this particular seat design there was no material chafing his sore plums. What the hell was Mammon doing under the leather beneath him?

“So Mr Lucifer-“ (a nom de guerre), “I’ve been taking a squint at your social media presence. Few followers, even less ‘Likes’, what on earth have you been doing to establish your brand? Even God has a spoof Twitter account”. “I don’t want ‘likes’, I want ‘dislikes’”. “No Master, for your heinous deeds you actually want ‘likes’”. “Gentlemen, perhaps you can save such quodlibets for later, we are on the clock here. Now tell me, what talents can you bring to the table?” “Talents? I was under the impression this was all on someone else’s dime”. “Not those sort of Talents Master, we’re all in your fiendish Eurozone now. He means abilities”. 

“Oh, well I’m gifted down below, tupping, fornicating and all manner of carnal reprehensibilities”. “Well yes, that’s a given for any Reality TV show, the sexual shenanigan subplots for the Tabloids. What else, for example, can you hold a tune… you know sing?” “Only angels sing!” “Weren’t you an angel once? I’m thinking The Voice”. “Alas no, since the accident, he’s gone from contralto to basso profundo. They did call him Snakehips Satan back in the day”. “Which day was that, before The Fall I take it…” “He can still throw some shapes”. “What are you his agent, Mr 15%?” “I handle his business affairs yes, but only to reinvest so as to advance the greater glory of Hell”. “Okay, I’m prepared to get you a shot at Strictly Come Dancing, if you show me your moves on the dance floor. I’ve got comps for Stringfellows so we can-“ “How is Peter the randy old devil?”


Satan dug the optics. The strobes reminded him of the shadows flitting between the licking flames of Gehenna. But the music made his ears bleed, he was supposed to have all the best tunes, no wonder his fortunes were so low if this was what was being churned out in his name. “Let’s get this Ragnarok and Roll started” as Satan commandeered the PA and from the deadened air conjured up the sound of fifes, tabors and Jericho Trumpets. They pounded out their martial sounds, yet not in military rhythms. This sonic assault was not about unison for keeping a marching beat, rather it targeted atomisation. The punishing pulsation located itself inside each dancer’s head, obliterating any sense of  their own heartbeats, their breath or their thought processes. Cutting them off from any other sensation of the world. Mutinous skeletons in thrall to an inhuman reverberation. Many began to convulse uncontrollably, grand mals brought about by the Grandest Malevolence of them all. Satan stomped over to the DJ’s booth, snatched up the mic and bellowed exultantly “How many angels can dance on the head of a pin now pleasure headed sinners?” The DJ, protected by his Beats™ headphones was unaffected by the cacophony and began to sample and splice el Diablo’s rhythms into a catchy breakbeat. He wrangled Satan’s fractured discordance into a danceable tune, so that all the floored casualties were able to slowly raise themselves, before throwing their arms in the air to the tempo. Satan hobbled away, taloned hands over his ears. The PR agent hurriedly bit into his arm so as to draw blood, before chasing after Satan waving the Reality TV production company’s contract in his direction. 

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

My Sax(ophone) Is On Fire - Fire Songs

So to mark my ambitious project to take on TS Eliot's "The Wasteland" for the 21st century, starting with "The Fire Sermon", here are songs about fire and flames. Enjoy.

1) The Doors - "Light My Fire"
I think this may have been the song that Morrison was singing when he er whipped his 'fire' member out on stage in Florida and got busted for gross indecency. They said Joe Orton's member was in a terrible state when they autopsied him. I suspect the same would have been said of Morrison, if that is indeed him in the grave at Père Lachaise. The Doors are a remarkable entry in my record collection, seeing as they were a) from the 60s, a tedious musical decade and b) had no bass guitar



2) Cop Shoot Cop - "Fire In The Hole"
If like me you're missing the sound of the bass guitar, here's a band who had two of them! There, i feel like musical equilibrium has been re-established.



3) The Prodigy - "Firestarter"
I sort of like The Prodigy, but always feel they cut themselves short in their songs, the volume needs to be turned up to 11 and the song to go on for just a bit longer to really imprint itself into your cranium. But you gentle reader may feel you disagree...



4) The Jam - "Set The House Ablaze"
The Jam were the band I saw most regularly play live (until The Fall came along). This was always a show stopper live, but sounds a bit thin on this recording. You can always check out the studio version.



5) Lee Scratch Perry - "Soul Fire"
Love, love this song. That is all.



6) Gun Club - "Fire Of Love"
Confusingly this track is off their second album "Miami", even though the debut album was called "Fire Of Love". Primordial rock and roll. 1-2 Bash, plunk



7) Jimi Hendrix - "Fire"
And the master of the smoking guitar... I notice there is a Bruno Mars song of the same name, it better not be a cover version...



8) The Bug - "Catch A Fire"
More seductive than Jim Morrison's leather trousers.



9) The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown - "Fire"
This must have freaked folk out in the 1960s. No wonder they say rock and roll is the Devil's music.



10) Section 25 - "Friendly Fires"
Let's calm things down a bit shall we? Actually, this tale of aerial bombardment is really unsettling in atmosphere.



11) Einsturzende Neubauten - "Feurio"
A play on the German word FUEUR meaning fire, but I looked up the lyrics and it counts for the purposes of this chart. Anyway, my chart, my rules. Singer Blixa Bargeld's voice really is a musical instrument in its own right, not a soothing one, but what sounds come out of his larynx...



12) Talking Heads - "Burning Down The House"
The intro is way better than the rest of the song, but what you gonna do?



13) Johnny Cash - "Ring Of Fire"
Ladies and gentlemen, Mr Johnny Cash... Hate to think what "Viz" comic would make of the lyrics, the character Johnny Fartpants in particular. From the sublime to the ridiculous, mea culpa but that's how I (rock and) roll.



14) Marc Riley & The Creepers - "Baby's On Fire"
I know Brian Eno did the original, but I prefer this i finger on the piano version that shows it stripped down bare.



15) Public Enemy - "Burn Hollywood Burn"
On the one hand the timing is unfortunate with the recent devastating fires in Napa and surrounding areas, but then with the issue of Harvey Weinstein's white male patriarchal domination of the movie industry, then perhaps the timing is apposite.



16) Meat Puppets - "Lake Of Fire"
Always had a soft spot for Meat Puppets with their blend of punk and country rock.



17) Big Country - "Fields Of Fire"
Or rain in this case by the look of it. No one needs a drumkit that size. This is the Scottish version of The Meat Puppets methinks. Do you spot the essence of The Clash's "Should I Stay Or Should I Go" in the tune?



18) Sylford Walker - "Burn Babylon"
Reggae at its finest.



19) Birthday Party - "Sonnys' Burning"
A song truly from the bowels of Hell. Rowland S Howard's guitar is astounding as it builds up. RIP Rowland and Tracey Pew.



20) The Ruts - "Babylon's Burning"
My karaoke song at a work's Xmas Party (it was a punk karaoke). My voice is quite similar to Malcolm Owen's.



Bonus Track
MC 900Ft Jesus - "The City Sleeps"
Lots of songs here about sexual conflagration and emotional arson, but here's the real thing. The most chilling narrative about an arsonist.







Sunday, 15 October 2017

"Paternoster Row" - a drabble



As our forces advanced to reclaim the city, a dazzling patch of green sat at its heart. Had the suffocating high rises been temporarily eclipsed by the remnants of the smoke? Or perhaps they had been levelled by the aerial bombardment, restoring the city to its Medieval origins. The green park, the former common lands choked off by private capital, now unshackled so it and we, would be free to breathe freely once again. But as we converged on the city centre, we saw that the green was pulsing. A host of iridescent green blowflies colonising the city’s charred corpses.