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Posts from the ‘language’ Category


I do not trust the word “love”

For there are those that have used it against me

But I trust its vibration

Pulsating, a diamond moon

Fragile spindly or bold and delicious

And I have learnt to feel its absence

Even where I desire it most

A cold lack

Going to bed hungry

Turning the knife inwards

While my lover twists the blade

The stories we tell

I am not too much

I do not trust the word “love”

Slippery side of a black bucket of hope

There is nothing to cling to

But I have felt its warmth in the actions of others

Making tea, fixing a bicycle, lamenting the loss of a friend

It is the mundane that impresses me now


Sharing without agenda

Cleaning the oven

Studying types of tree, all of them sturdy examples

Of what I aspire to be

I do not trust the word “love”

With its myriad meanings and ways to mesmerise

I bought that book, a one way ticket to disappointment

But I know its radiance shines out of every cell

Riding the snow at sunrise

Alighting the faces of strange friends

Singing in company

The world is alive and dying to dance with you

Openly offering its richness

All the while searching and laughing

For what is most essential

Cannot be found or destroyed

With every breath I make love to the universe

As the tide suckles the dark shore

I feel everything and nothing

Those who took love and used it as a weapon

Cannot penetrate what is already air

Tax Return: A Spiritual Guide

Business description:

This is my favourite part, every year!

There is a limit of 42 characters.

Describe the indefensibly chaotic way you have chosen to just about survive in this world, in 42 characters…

“Pain causes art which sometimes pays bills”

“Waiting tables while dreaming of big break”

“Watching all my illusions slowly crumble”

It’s a fun game! HMRC is helping me to lighten up and enjoy life. At the same time sharpening my mental agility and integrating my heart and mind.

And not only that, it’s a profoundly spiritual exercise.

Enforced brevity is making me think long and hard about what it is I’m doing with my time.

This year I am going to come up with something really blinding and succinct that I can also use to describe myself to people at parties.

I find myself fantasising about a recognisable job title that does not provoke further questioning.

Ah the misty-eyed myth of the artist – so lucky to be doing what they love all day every day and making millions from it

Oh the dreamlife of waking at midday, lounging in cafés, sauntering round art galleries soaking up inspiration, occasionally injecting heroin into one’s eyeballs

HMRC tolerates no such frivolity!
Self-employment is a serious business. A sobering term that suggests responsibility, stability and independence.

Self-assessment is the annual retreat of the self-employed. A time for inner reflection. What’s working? What’s bringing me down? What’s totally bankrupting me?

Of course if one were to get into a true assessment of self, the ultimate end point would be utter dissolution into complete space and openness.

Only it’s hard to convey that to the tax authorities. In 42 characters. But I’m game for a try.

Describe your business:

Birth, something something something Death

Gaily wasting time in blizzard of eternity

Living, loving, learning, longing, losing.


Abraham Cruzvillegas’s installation at the Tate Modern – as a self-employed person I could literally stand and stare at this all day.

Abraham Cruzvillegas’s installation at the Tate Modern – as a self-employed person I could literally stand and stare at this all day.

Bog-handling, and other end of year musings

This Winter I have walked through many bogs. Some I entered deliberately, others I just sort of ended up in. Today I went for a walk to wash my boots in the stream and on the way back found myself in yet another bog. This led me to contemplate a few bog-related matters.

1)   There will always be another bog. It is fruitless to hanker after a bogless reality.

2)   I do not especially mind whether I am in a bog or not. Some people are having the time of their lives in bogs. It really doesn’t matter.

3)   The word ‘bog’ is pleasingly simple and direct. Everyone knows what a bog is. A bog is not trying to be anything other than itself.

4)   Bogs don’t last forever.

5)   Nobody is going to save you from the bog. I realise now that many of the songs I have written up until now have actually been about bogs. For example the song ‘Save Me,’ on my EP released earlier this year: heavy mental boggery. ‘Skin,’ also on the EP: all bogs are subject to change.

On the way home I noticed I had also been formulating some new year’s resolutions, inspired in part by the National Federation of Fish Friers. Here they are, in no particular order:

  1. walk up more hills in the rain
  2. create things just for fun
  3. stop giving up being an actor
  4. cultivate camaraderie

    “Bringing the fish and chip industry together since 1913”

  5. come up with a good way to describe your music to people at parties
  6. stop worrying about how to describe your music to people at parties
  7. stop lamenting the fact that you are a crazy perfectionist and find a manager who is able to handle your turbulent genius
  8. love and be loved, make love, give love
  9. dance more
  10. expect less

Happy new year everyone


Sorry for the mass text

If you are ‘sorry for the mass text,’ why are you sending it? You could also not send it. Alternatively you could send it and stop apologising for it. Is anybody forcing you to send it? You could send an email. You could call people individually or send them a message in the post. It’s really up to you. Presumably you think it contains something I might want to know. This is not such a bad intention. I might be genuinely interested. But your apology makes a mockery of my enthusiasm! And yet you feel the need to express your guilt. This is quite unhelpful. Preceding everything with ‘sorry’ doesn’t absolve you from the responsibility of what you’re about to do. ‘Sorry I’m about to hit you in the face.’ ‘Sorry I’m going to sleep with your wife.’ ‘Sorry I’m going to drink 17 beers and make a dick of myself. It’s just who I am.’ In the grand scheme of things sending a mass text is not really that bad. Of course if you send it at 3 o’clock in the morning it’s really bloody annoying. But being really bloody annoyed, momentarily, over a mass text, is not that bad. I might think you were a dick, but probably only if I already thought that. It’s definitely not a deal breaker. So if you’re the kind of person who likes to send mass texts I say go for it. Just don’t apologise for it.

The mysterious world of songwriting

Sometimes songs just come out, fully formed, as if they were coming from somewhere else, there’s really no effort at all. Other times you sweat for months and months over troubling chord sequences and niggling lyrics – it’s not always a happy ending. Some of them never get finished, they simply lie there on the factory floor, waiting for their carcasses to be stripped of good ideas that are plundered for newer songs with more chance of completion.

I know of few things more satisfying than that moment when a real tricksy bastard of a song finally gets finished. So I was thinking to myself while cycling home this evening, having just experienced this very moment of the final pieces of a puzzle slotting into place – the idea I’d been forming over the last few weeks or so had come together at last in the middle of Waterloo Bridge.

Waterloo Bridge - the site of many moments of creativityI’d been struggling over this song since last Summer and had performed it several times but something wasn’t quite right. If I was honest, I wasn’t really happy with the lyrics for the whole of the first verse. But I just wanted to get it out there so hoped I’d sort of get away with it.

‘Getting away with it’ lyrics are not really the kind I want to be writing. The kind of lyrics I aspire to are those where the juice could be sucked from each well-chosen word by every new listener and never run dry. I kept thinking of “One” by U2.

“One love, but we’re not the same
Well we hurt each other
Then we do it again”

Lyrics that are at once simple and profound, they make my heart turn over. So I was rejoicing on my bicycle that I had at least found a way to shift the block obstructing this song from being truly born. The new words seemed to fit better with the whole thing, as if they would help the song to know itself better.

I arrived home and picked up my guitar to seal the deal. The relief I felt was more like the feeling you have after painting a room that took a lot longer than you expected – there is a sense of weariness and resignation rather than outright celebration.

As I struck the final chord I made a mistake, but I liked it. So I kept playing, and another song began. And as I played, this new song just arose, fully formed, simple and profound, from the other, like an appendix to a long and gruelling novel. That’s what it feels like, an afterthought, or a second orgasm. Weirdly enough, the song appears to be about contentment.

Clapham Common - almost there

Lyrics to kill for

I am depressed. I am depressed because I went shopping for clothes, and a song came on – by Bruno Mars, as I later discovered. It’s called “The Lazy Song.” It didn’t make me lazy though, it made me want to punch someone. No not someone, him.

On reflection, it’s actually a rather accurate title. He was obviously feeling so lazy that he didn’t bother to write a decent melody, interesting chords or lyrics that made sense or had any meaning. I feel for him, because sometimes I also experience laziness. What I don’t understand is why he felt the need to inflict this particularly uncreative mood on the rest of us.

If you have hitherto been spared the joy of this song, the premise of it is that he doesn’t feel like doing anything. He then goes on to list all the things that ‘not feeling like doing anything’ is going to make him do. Wild isn’t it? Perhaps this irony is part of his genius. Perhaps it was a mistake. Who knows?

The lyrics themselves are equally blinding.

Today I don’t feel like doing anything
I just wanna lay in my bed
Don’t feel like picking up my phone, so leave a message at the tone

It’s a classic rhyme (phone/tone). Let’s face it, we’ve all thought about using it in a song, but something has always held us back. Well it didn’t hold him back. He’s obviously got a lot of balls. In fact we know he has. Because he tells us about them:

I’m gonna kick my feet up then stare at the fan
Turn the TV on, throw my hand in my pants
Nobody’s gon’ tell me I can’t

This is in the early part of the song, when he’s still wearing his pants. Later he expresses his intention to

…just strut in my birthday suit
And let everything hang loose

I don’t have a problem with this. I also enjoy walking around naked. Great. Pro-nudity. It’s just… well so what?

I’ll be lounging on the couch just chilling in my Snuggie
Click to MTV so they can teach me how to dougie
‘Cause in my castle I’m the freaking man

But what’s this? A rare moment of psychological insight? Mars lets the heavy veil of ‘inarticulate moron’ lift for a second to show us the hideous insecurity lurking beneath. In his castle he’s the freaking man. But what about outside on the street? A helpless bag of nerves? A blubbering emotional wreck? Is he being bullied? Does he use MTV to numb the pain of his freakiness?

Sadly, we never get to find out because he reverts to fantasy land.

Tomorrow I’ll wake up, do some P90X
Find a really nice girl, have some really nice sex
And she’s gonna scream out
This is great

Really nice? Is that the best you’ve got Bruno? No freakiness? No manliness? No balls-out strutting-ness? Just ‘really nice’? And twice in one line??? True laziness. I am beginning to alter my opinion of this man. He is a master of the genre.

I hope I have whetted your appetite sufficiently, because to properly revel in the glory of this musical travesty you really have to hear the song. And thanks to youtube, you can even gaze in horror at the appalling video.


Fear And Loathing in Cavendish Square

Tonight I have been rehearsing for the Liars’ League. I am performing a story for their monthly night this Tuesday – the theme is ‘Fear and Loathing.”

The story I am reading is by Niall Boyce, whose work I have had the pleasure of reading before at a similar event a few years ago.

Liars’ League, if you’re not familiar with it, is a monthly live fiction night, where professional actors read new short stories by writers from around the world. (I lifted that definition from their website, because it’s late, and I really should be sleeping soon…)

It is always a most enjoyable evening, and Niall is an adorable doctor turned writer with a flair for the dark and disturbing. Not in his doctoring, of course. Just his writing. There are other stories being read too, all new and all in the vein of horror/sci-fi/haunty type stuff.

There’s more info here on Facebook – it’s held downstairs at The Phoenix, Cavendish Square, W1G 0PP, near Oxford Circus tube. Not incidentally, The Phoenix on Shaftesbury Avenue, which is where I was going to go until I researched it in order to write this blog. Which is why blogging is a socially useful activity. Because now I will be there and not somewhere else. Good night.

Oh P.S. there’s also going to be a brand new story by Stephen King! He’s famous and brilliant! I probably should have mentioned him earlier.