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.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

The Etiquette Of Party Bags - A guide





        

        



                  













                                             





        


          


            



     




  
From the forthcoming novel

published by Dead Ink Books

out soon 


Saturday, 7 October 2017

Manichean Synchronicity - Flash Fiction



The jeroboam smashed into the hull, signalling the liner’s launch ~ as the pub brawler wielded a jagged broken bottle to slash his foe’s face.

The HiFi was playing Mongolian overtone singing ~ as the lover’s fingers snapped the hyoid bone in her throat.

The sculptor’s chisel released the form that was inside his imagination from the marble ~ as the prisoner plunged a self-fashioned blade into another man’s gut.

The dignitary pulled on the sash to part the drapes so revealing the painting ~ as the burglar tightened the curtain tie around the homeowner’s jugular.

The mayor cut the ribbon to declare the arts centre open ~ as the barren woman drove the scissors into her rival’s pregnant belly.

She laid the final rocks in the Zen garden ~ as the crowd pelted the adulterer with stones in the public square.

The farmer was handed a machete by his field labourers for symbolically reaping the final sugar cane of the crop ~ as the genocidal slaughter was propelled by machete wielding militias.


William Burroughs shot paint tins to Jackson Pollock his canvases, (not his best work) ~ as the gambler shot fifty-eight concert-goers in Sin City

Paingyric - Short Story


Like a suicide bomber, regard this video to be my last will and testament, only unlike him I do not proclaim myself martyr and will not be ushering anyone else into death with me. I have spent a lifetime wreaking both effects on those unfortunates in my orbit in any case. I have taken to the camera lens since I can no longer cradle an actual pen between fingers, contorted by freshly minted muscle memory of clenched teeth and cramped hands. Cruel perhaps that this reflex strikes at such strategic loci for the production of words, when both are the furthest peripheries removed from the actual epicentre of the pathology. My pathology, the rest of my corpus in revolt against me. And perish the thought of my digits ever dancing across a keyboard ever again. But my mouth still functions. Little surprise to those colleagues and peers in the industry that it would be the last constituent of me to seize up and relinquish the fight. Alas however, the pen is not mightier than the sword, judging by the rotisserie blade that has impaled my liver and convolutes it above my internal infernal fires, sending off a shower of metastasised sparks to all other parts of my benighted body. Particularly having a liking for and coming to rest on my brain. Because it’s relatively spongy up there I suppose. Soft landings for terminal take-off. 

Even though my name bears considerable commodity value, there will be no pecuniary charge to access this video, as it shall be made readily available on the free file sharing sites. My offspring have been well provided for already by my career, though it cannot compensate for the other incommodious dearths that came about in its wake. Was one contingent upon the other? I already know their answer, so that my response matters not, for it carries no weight. This may be my testament, but only they can testify to the fallout of its contents. See who turns up to my funeral I imagine. A veritable dead reckoning.

Every so often you’ll have to excuse me as I pull on my metal straw of liquid morphine. Here in my sippy-cup, forged from metal as betokens the status of a seething adult. I have to adjudge the optimal time to imbibe, as close to the Richter Scale peak of crescendoing spasm as to be able to maximally alleviate it, without leaving it too late from evacuation so that the pain quake obliterates all other competing consciousness. In such a way the opiate serves as an inkwell, dipping the pen in to prevent the flow of words becoming sundered and surrendered. A sharpening of the senses emerging only with the assistance of anaesthesia.

So, to the meat of the matter, albeit marinaded in morphine. Reading is a hybrid art form. That I say this might surprise you since the author’s sole tool, his only palette, is that of language, which makes it perhaps the purest of art forms, unmediated by its materiality; no coloured pigment on canvas; no 50-piece orchestra, conductor and opera singers; or no electrified amplifiers for the screech of guitars. No, it’s hybrid because it requires both senses of sight and hearing, without privileging one over the other. We read the words with our eyes, but ‘hear’ them sounded inside our heads and that way we hear the voice of the absent author. Alive or dead. Or somewhere in between, soon to pass from one state to the other. It’s a different mechanism from listening to an interlocutor who is stood there in front of you. So why have I taken to this filmic medium that most definitely privileges the optic sense over the aural? Because in one respect there is very little visual variegation to keep your eye entertained, so you would ordinarily have to focus solely on the words. No mis en scene, no carefully constructed image within the frame. Yet what ocular paucity on offer, is, I rather feel, vital. You see before you a middle-aged man in decline. Though unless you are a part of my serrated inner circle, you would not see me incrementally enough to be able to discern any such decline. I was fortunate enough to be an artist in the pre-social media age. My putative audience had and have no idea what I really look like beyond the fly leaf photo with all its high production values. A fiction for a fiction. So it is not this image of a crumbling man that you should or could fix on. It is this flask. Because the flask is the central image. Even though it has no magical powers. It is no elixir restoring me to life. Nor does it hold back the press of barbarian hordes of tumescent incoherence from the Palatine redoubt of my upper stories. At best it allows me to reach the end of my sentences.

But why it is so important for this image to be front and central, is because it represents something that no amount of skilfully composed words can ever achieve; it stands for death. It represents and embodies pain in a way I could never harness simply through language. Morphine, the tincture of dreams, the realm of Morpheus after whom it is named, when actually it serves as the very antithesis of dreams; death as the eternal dreamless sleep. Palliative care while the pall-bearers are merely suiting up. No matter how intricate and resonant I articulate, death resists my metaphors. Here I am, throwing liquid analgesic down my gullet to try and allow me some fleeting joined-up seconds to contemplate what it is I’m grappling with. Yet it is really too late in the day to really come to grips with the intractable. Interesting word ‘palliative’, it bears a sense of extenuating or mitigating pleas in law, or apologies of which I have none. And yet its Latin root is the word for a large mantle or cloak, that you’re concealing or shrouding something. Which brings us back to the pall cloth over a coffin. As if we could tuck death out of sight. Like an unsightly coffee stain under a doily. Or look here, a morphine smear on the table’s glass top. See, the flask is to be in plain sight at all times during this broadcast. The flask is the motif of this talk; motif of course as in motive… Oh the pain siren is a howling… Motile, as in both one’s fructifying semen and the free movement of metastasising cancer cells, which is most assuredly unfructifying. 

Sometimes I wonder if these twinges are the prod of some sort of internal critic or censor, outraged at myself. Even though I have never once felt any compunction to retract what I have written. I stand by everything I say, or in this present case, sit doubled over in agonised throes… There, that’s better, sucking succour. A blessed modicum of damnable relief. Until even Morpheus’ soothing powers are dulled through what is laughingly called ‘tolerance’. At that point you can only beseech morphine not to relieve you, but to release you. For you will probably self-medicate yourself to death before the cancer culls you. Ironic that the root of the word ‘release’ is to loosen or relax, which is what you count on the drug to do for you in these last knockings, yet the apposite word ‘relief’ has a connotation of getting you back on your feet, of raising you up from being prostrate. Neither are related to the word resurrect which has an etymological root of resurgence. More’s the pity. The surging going on is in one direction only and it’s to my absolute detriment. There, that hits the spot. You know, the most galling thing about this self-medication, is that as an inveterate smoker of cigarettes, which as you can see, I still do because, hell what’s to lose, but the action of lifting the flask to my lips and puffing on the straw, is akin to vaping. I suppose I could have opted for an audio only rogation, but who listens to the wireless these days anyway? The word wireless now standing instead for networks of frenzied, swarming airwaves that have superannuated the original wireless with its singular stentorian voice. But no, I rejected the Godcast, because the flask has to be up front and central. A flask will and testament if you will. And you will, unless the disarticulations of Alzheimer’s gets you first. 

I had always thought I was offering our species profundities in my writing. But this pewter flask tells me I fell oh so far short of that. Not that my work wasn’t more insightful than the drivel the vast amount of other writers produce… Excuse me… That coughing jag would have been produced irrespective of my current blight. The carcinogenic splutterings of most other writers stops up one’s breath, through the audacity of their musings being so feeble. Some of them even choose to pontificate on the contents of this flask, yet couldn't see what was staring them in the face. Reflected in the adulterated silver sheen. Alloyed with lead, the supposed barrier against radiation but proffering a differing poison of its own. Same duplicity as morphine, on both counts… Even abutted hard up against it, yet still these so-called writers (with apologies to the ‘so-called Islamic State’) couldn’t see what was clearly right under their noses. Or in it in the case of some, trying to shortcut the creative process, to get to the lesser seen parts of their selves, when in truth they weren’t worth accessing in the first place and even if they were, just put in the requisite bloody work! You can't mainline genius! Instead they all plumped for the fanciful altered reality vistas offered by Morpheus, rather than the ineffable singularity of death.

But who am I to cavil and carp, when in the greater scheme of things, I now question the merit of my own endeavours and even that of all possible writing? In the manner of the Classical Greek philosophers and the Christian theologians who squatted on their shoulders, I was pursuing the wrong lines of inquiry. It is not a question of what constitutes a ‘good’ life, or an ethical one. It is just the question of life itself we should be interrogating. As framed by our flagrant mortality. I’d employ the word ‘blatant’ rather than the hyperbole 'flagrant', only its root is to prate and babble, when we never speak of death at all, so the word does not befit. Yet ‘flagrant’ isn’t quite right either, with its sense of flaming and fulgurant, iterative of an enlightenment that is anything but. Words fail and break down in quietus’ vestibule. You have no power to lobby once in Death’s lobby. At this late stage I am afeared that writing and language itself just isn’t up to the task. Sculptors of stigmatic saints and martyrs have got to better grips with pain and agony and their corollary of surcease. Whether theist or humanist in their outlook, many rendered the wound of humanity right on the nose. Because it is non-lingual. An expression of pure emotion which always eludes language that has to take the roundabout route of metaphor. Pain etched into skin is far more pertinent than printed words etched into the grain of paper. Let alone on a monitor screen which possesses no grain at all. The pain wreaked across my features says more about life than my entire wrote oeuvre. Wrought for nought… 

How we are obsessed with origins. Ting. With original sin. Ting. With formative Oedipal relations. Ting. With identity and founding myths. Ting. When everything should in fact proceed from eschatology. Ting ting. Flask your father, oh you can’t, he’s dead. While we're about Herr Freud, if we are to invoke his Oedipal theory, why not also his oral, anal and phallo-genital stages as well? We writers should play with ludic language with orality, with anality as well as genital gay abandon. In our linguistic sandbox, we should throw words around like our own shit. James Joyce did, not that I'm comparing myself to the master. We ought to bite and gnaw and lacerate text with our teeth, I mean words emerge from our mouths right? But we don't, we meekly succumb to the superego of grammar for arranging our words into syntactically governed, linear sentences, instead of bloodied smears and seminal gobbets. In doing so we mute language’s energies. But cancer won’t stand for that, for it is a mutiny against any and every muted energy. So I also am not immune from such criticism, as I too yielded before the publishing proprieties suggested by my various careworn editors over the years. Consider the beginnings and ends of novels. Every reader is thrown in the deep end at the opening of a novel. They have to find their way into the world and the language of the book, enter into the voice of their character guide. Consequently authors devote a lot of attention to the beginning, to hook the reader in. But the ending of books? How many endings have ever truly satisfied you the reader? They just seem poor apologies for concluding the book there, like it ran out of steam, or offered a lumpen twist to try and give the novel some last minute perspectival weight. The attention given is the wrong way round. The beginning will always remain inchoate as the reader comes to it blind. But the ending...? The ending must be utterly defined, even if it leads to inchoateness beyond the final full-stop, for after all, death ushers in the inchoate. 

Oh, the flask is empty. Out of juice. Out of words. Out of time. I'll just unclip my throat mic here and set the flask upon the table next to it.




Thursday, 28 September 2017

Always Date A Nail Biter (Never A Bed Wetter) - Flash Fiction


Three and a half minutes to soft boil an egg. Less if you’re at altitude because of the thinner air. Then you have to open it up to get at the nutritious albumen. A spoon or knife to trepan the shell, but then it’s filagree finger work to peel away the brown calcite shards. Tough to do if you’re a nail biter rather than a bed wetter. I reckon he’s both.

A minute and a half to hard boil a man’s brain. Like at altitude, the oxygen gets thinner until he passes out. With your hands around the carotid arteries, the brain in his stupid ovoid shaped head will seethe and boil. He will grab at your hands in a desperate bid to free his airways. But because he’s an onychophagist, he causes you no pain since he has no acuminated keratin to pierce the surface of your skin. Same way he could never peel away a cracked egg shell. Bitten to the quick for a real slow death. Not only is he unlikely to scrape any implicating DNA material from you, even if he did, there’s no finger nails to lodge it under for safe keeping and later forensic reconstruction.


So much easier than drowning the bed wetters in a bath tub.  


Sunday, 17 September 2017

The Future History Of Demythology - Flash Fiction


Avant-garde is time bound. Hidebound. In our age of rapid technological change and shrinking attention spans, the avant-garde are the nostalgics. The left-behind, derrière-garde guardians of the remembered past, (forlornly) demanding concentration and application..

Body Politic was a metaphor that came into use through a fifteenth century understanding of medical anatomy. With the human genome and the structure and function of DNA becoming known, new metaphors present themselves which we currently remain insensible to.

Consciousness will not reveal itself from human genomics (see B). For how can we objectively observe fully in the round something in which we already stand within? Anticipating our consciousness to demurely deconstruct itself for us, as us. Consciousness forever as the dark side of the moon.

Decidedly deciduous deicide, yet dread of death and the dangled deal with a desperately conjectural afterlife, denotes the divine obtains still.

Ethics derived etymologically from a group or cultural disposition or mien and then back engineered to apply as obligations for each individual member of that group or culture. Only in this atomised age, singular group cultural identities evanesce. All morals and moral behaviour are relative. Ethics have become superannuated, duty obsolete and there is nothing binding us together, be it natural or moral law. 

Freedom: if you are reading this of your own free will, then you have a reasonable degree of freedom. If you disagree with even a single proposition here, then you are enslaved by your programming. If you agree with every single tenet here, then you are enslaved until you break free of what they counter. What lies on the other side once you have burst through? Who can say as it is unexplored terrain. Probably a whole new set of super-subtile myths to enslave you afresh. 

Game Theory is applied to many aspects of life, positing that when humans calculate that cooperating with one another, it best redounds to their mutual interest. The deterrent argument follows this flawed logic, since as David Hume explained through his white swans, a single appearance of a black swan on the pond erases the proof of your senses for the entirety preceding that occasion; that is, the nuclear deterrent argument only has to be disproved from holding once and we are all finished for eternity anyway.

History is the Butterfly Theory in effect. Yes it constantly repeats itself (since its actors are all humans given to repetitive behaviours), but the starting conditions are different each time so that the outcome will not be the same as previously. Once upon a time and only once indeed…

I is not in the word ‘team’ (more’s the pity) but it is in ‘time’, which is ironic seeing as after a brief span, the I drops out permanently. I is not only in the word ‘identity’ but actually leads it; but what is the point of spending as lifetime establishing an identity, only to have mortality erase it permanently? I also leads the word ‘intimacy’, yet this proves nothing. 

Je t’aime… Je m’aime (consider that phonetically) more like it. For we are but a clump of sensory information receptors, who have hit upon the evolutionary decision (randomly of course) that they are best served by aggregating and maintaining a unified outlook of the whole. But they are still in control of this consciousness rather than the other way around (see C).

K, Josef was guilty and he knew it, Kafka knew it, Max Brod knew it and now you dear reader know it. 

Language is not fit for purpose. Conceals as much as it communicates. Slippage and seepage. Ellipsis and elision.   

Myth is pernicious since it dresses up ignorance (of cause and effect in the natural world) in supernatural pretence in order to justify the exigencies of the local institutional and power relations among humans. Though science has provided better approximations of cause and effect to strip away the supernatural and replace it with ‘reason’, science itself is a myth-based body of knowledge (see S).  Myth, like ethics (see E), is man-made and therefore self-imposed and should only be demanding of voluntary adherence.

Nouns are Plato’s Ideal Forms in linguistic form. That is, they don’t actually exist either. Objects classified as one noun or other are approximations and simulacra. “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” et al.

Once upon a time (see H).

Pangram of “the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” only holds for the temporary duration of the ban on fox hunting perhaps, when the fox knows it has legal protections from the dog. An example of the viral algorithm infecting language,with periodicy, permutation and prosaicness.

Quantum Mechanics are scientists hedging their bets. Mathematically proven probability. Probably.  

Reality is a construction of the human mind. The notion of an objective reality is merely a human consensus. The templates of what we take for reality are imprinted in our brains and our senses only scan for deviations referenced against the template in order to prompt our responsive action. Our reality templates are premised on our three-dimensional perceptions, yet scientists posit 11 or 12 dimensions of existence (see S).

Science bears more of an elegant, logically consistent canon than religious beliefs, but it is no less a credo. Whatever the equations prove, our limited perceptional apparatus means we can only conceive in three dimensions, four at a stretch, yet current theories are up at around 11 or 12 dimensions of existence (see R). 

Tripartite human brain, reptilian, mammalian and human, does not represent unalloyed progress and upgrade. Greater processing power yes, but we have barely progressed from reptilian filial infanticide, to mammalian killing of a rival’s offspring, to human kind’s targeting of any and every one of its own species (see G).

Uroborus is perhaps of all mythic symbols the one that resonates most. However, take your pick of the myriad of symbolic representations it proffers: Circle of Life; creative renewal; duality, synthesis and integration; immortality; eternal immutability; perfection; kundalini energy; hermetically closed systems; feedback loops; the philosopher’s stone; the singularity from which all existence stems. Go pick the bones out of that little lot. 

Vicious circle applies to not only language (words defined in terms of other words), but to this very exercise itself, (many of these definitions refer the reader on to other definitions listed here). There is no inertial frame for logic, nor language (see C,L). 


W; literally double ‘u’, itself already the elongated sound of twin oo’s. Tautologically redundant as an outcome of an alphabet whose characters and their sound bear no relationship to the meaning of the words they delineate (See L). 

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Honeyed Tongue - Flash Fiction




More jaundiced eyes might charge she pouted every one of her words. But my vision was more forgiving, seeing as I was in thrall to her beauty. So I would submit, the way speech puckered her lips was more akin to a child blowing bubbles. With the same blend of beguilement and tremulousness; breath bated hoping they would sustain and float, rather than evanesce and dissolve. Close my eyes and hearing the timbre, I picture her with the heel of her open hand osculating her chin, so that she could blow the word-kisses from her palm runway, as if helping a ladybird take wing. But when those gossamer words that take so long to sail across to me, finally moor at my ear canal, their brutal lading becomes plain. Iron waspish sting delivered by the tip of a velvet tongue.  

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Three Dreams In The Key Of G



In October my new novel will be published by Dead Ink Books. "Three Dreams In The Key Of G" tackles many large themes, from parenting and child development, through "Nature" versus "Nurture", sectarian politics to what it means to be human. Part parenting guide, part mother's journal of despair, the book is full of bitter humour (some extracts can be found here).

Stylistically the book is quite daring as well, with visuals, two different sized alphabets (our 26 letter and DNA's 4 letter alphabet), as the book drills down beneath the level of word to that of the letters themselves).


Synopsis:
Three very powerful female characters, Mother, Crone and genetic Creatrix. None of them will meekly submit to their besiegers. Their three narrative voices, intercut and interweave with one another. In a sense, all three are palimpsests, constantly writing over, and being written by, one of the other two. Whether they are aware or not, they are being informed by another intimate voice so close at hand, as to be under the skin. 

In post Peace Agreement Northern Ireland, a young mother feels besieged. Both by the demands of motherhood and her militant Loyalist husband, decommissioned with the advent of Peace and thrown back into the world of the domestic hearth; whither the violence of his soul? To stop her mind becoming silted up through inactivity, surrounded by the infantile and the exasperating, she maintains a journal. Through which she pursues questions of nature versus nurture in the development of her children, within a divided society such as Northern Ireland, proffering its rarefied environment of acquired symbol and historical legacy. Only, why is her journal all out of sequence and what meaning can it therefore provide to answer her despairing question, 'why do we even have children?'

In Florida, a British septuagenarian with no papers and no official existence, also finds herself under a state of siege. Her community is currently surrounded by FBI, ATF and DEA armed agents. Yet they are not a sect of any kind, rather a refuge for battered women. And while it is true she does have a scheme for redrawing the map of the world, it could hardly be said to be a doomsday scenario. Except maybe, if you're a male of the species. Her fight is for hearts and minds, which might explain why her principal manifestation appears to be through the internet. Where lurk useful allies for her in the war of information technology.

In commercial laboratories all over the world, the human genome is being decoded and compiled. Or ravished and dissected depending on your point of view. What is that textual voice feedbacking through the monitors? Protesting the assault; challenging the epistemologies of both scientist and theologian; chiding us for our linear notions of relationship, the depleted metaphors with which we construct thought and even our 26 letter alphabet in the face of the genome's intricate weaves formed from combinations of just 4 letters. Goading us that we will never unravel the mystery that lies behind the genetic code, unless we open up our very natures to unlimited potential. 



Here is a small extract from the Northern Irish mother as she realises her daughter has reached an important developmental stage








You can pre-order "Three Dreams In The Key Of G" direct from the publisher here

paperback £10.00
hardback £20.00
PDF for e-readers £7.00

For incentive prizes for purchase, see here; the chance to win all 5 of my flash fiction collections, a unique personalised flash fiction story I will write for you, a limited edition sculpture or my latest beautifully designed (not by me) chapbook with 24 stories. 

Pledges Mean Prizes - Incentives for pre-ordering my new novel

In October, my fifth novel "Three Dreams In The Key Of G" will be published by Dead Ink Books. You can read full details of the book and view a 3-minute reading by me from the book here.


For the month of August, the publishers Dead Ink Books are crowdfunding for mine along with 4 other new fiction books they are releasing between now and the end of the year. This is the money that will determine the size of the print run for the books, that is how many copies they will be able to get printed up.

A pledge to the crowdfunder at the very minimum serves as a pre-order purchase of the book(s) you pledge to. In addition, I am offering the following prizes as incentives to pledge either to my book alone, or to bundles of all 5 books.

Incentive 1) Five lucky people who pledge £10 to buy a copy of my book during the crowdfunder, will be entered into a draw to win a copy of my chapbook "Viciss-Etudes", hand designed, illustrated and bound by the wonderfully talented Little Appleseed. The chapbook has 24 of my flash fiction tales and offers something very different from your usual chapbook.

Incentive 2) For three lucky pledgers of a bundle of all 5 novels in e-book format, for the princely sum of £25, I will match it with a bundle of mine own - All 5 of my flash fiction collections in Kindle format, so you will need to have a Kindle e-reader to take advantage of this prize. There is no geographical limit to this, unlike the other analogue prizes which are limited to the UK and EU states. 

Incentive 3) For those of you who have watched my video reading from the novel, you might have noticed the sculpted female torso figure in the foreground. This original art work will be awarded to one lucky winner drawn from those who pledge for a signed hardback copy of my novel.

  

Incentive 4) For anyone generous enough to pledge for the hardback and original artwork for the cover, at the princely sum of £80, I will pen them an exclusive flash fiction story - both the handwritten draft version and then the mint typed version, signed and dated by me and framed. If you want, you can give me some elements you want incorporated into the story, such as a character name, or three words I have to use, or anything else that takes your fancy. This will be a limited edition of precisely 1! If there is more than one pledger, then each will get an original story. 

So there you have it. By pledging anything, you get my new novel at the very least. With a bit of luck, you could win one of the prizes I've listed above.

Many thanks and I hope you enjoy everything that's on offer.

Marc 

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Excerpts from "Three Dreams In The Key Of G"

My new novel "Three Dreams In The Key Of G" is available for pre-order throughout August. For prizes and incentives for ordering, see here

The synopsis can be read here. 

Here are some extracts from the novel