There’s a world outside, I know cos I’ve heard talk.

Four years ago I left Scotland, in a van, at midnight. I went to Norfolk and started at an art school. I hated art school more than I hated the dole or brussel sprouts. It confirmed every piece of shit thing I ever thought about art and wank. I liked the beaches but the natives were strange. Nog is the best drink I found there. I left a year later, in a van, with a polish guy called King Albert who I hired from an ad. King Albert was working like a motherfucker and drove like he was on PCP. He got me too London with my cats and mostly in one piece. I did the first few years here in Peckham. Began at Greenwich University whose buildings I had admired for a long time. It is a stunningly pretty place to study. One of my best memories of Peckham was last winter when there was snow for about five days – so thick it stopped the whole city. It was like being at home when I was a kid and snow really fucking snowed, I lived in a caravan for years and would get icicles from my bedroom window all the way to the ground. I could crunch an icicle down pretty quick then. Natures popsicles. Anyway, this day in Peckham with the snow, I went over to Peckham park, skidding down the middle of the road cos there was no traffic and people were saying ‘hello’ to each other. I have never seen anything right in London like it, igloos, snowmen, everybody in pubs, out having snowball fights, I took loads of photography of it and knew it was something I was unlikely to see again down here for sometime. This is one of the trees I photographed.

I flew a dragon moon across Peckham park at midnight and it looked like this.

I did not miss art school but I still missed hills. I fell in love. I published my first collection of poetry. I got too drunk all summer and threw tumblers in the Thames, fell off a boat, had the kind of stand up shouting match at a bus stop that can bring half of Westminster Bridge to an admiring halt. It was tumultuous. I wrote non stop. I moved again not wanting to ebb my average 1.4 moves for every  year of my life so far and this move was a good one cos I got my first garden. This means I have managed to keep a promise to at least one of my cats, that I would get them a garden for their retirement. Despite the fact he’s getting on Gringo is pretty happy launching himself at the shed roof and staking out his turf, he knows birds are worth watching though he hasn’t went for one yet, fingers crossed he’s too Zen and the squirrels that scrabble up the back drainpipe to the roof – well, he thinks they looked like pretty fucking scrawny cats! Now I have ten days to go and my studies are done. Can’t believe it has come round already but I am happy to be moving on.  I took my Scold’s Bridle in for assessment last week and it got a lot of attention, I’m really happy with how it turned out and there is finally room in the shed again for stuff. This week I have mostly been listening to Suicide. Thinking about where I might fall off the planet next and end up. Or maybe I’ll try staying put for awhile, much as it goes against my restless instincts. I hear Iggy Pop and Suicide are playing Hammersmith Apollo on Monday, going to see if I can grab a last-minute ticket, go an shake my thing. Till morrow good wenceless. Ovid and rum. Gin gang gooly. Wing wang walla. Murk. Murk. Murk again. Never can be done too much murking. Stars an’ Merrydown. Fires in the back garden. There is a world outside, I know cos I’ve heard talk. Listen to Mr E, he’ll tell you all about it xx

Tideland

I have squirrels living in the roof of my building. They freak my cat out, are very bold and appear to have began tapping on the wall behind my bed, inside the old boarded up fireplace. Either that or I’m living next door to a Fritzel. Or, as Joe suggested, the guy upstairs spends a lot of time cutting out deals. This has made me consider two things. Firstly I need to get out of bed. At the moment I am finalising my collection of poetry The Dead Queen of Bohemia, writing an epic long short story, a novel, doing all end of degree essays yadda yadda. I do this from my pit and although it doesn’t look like Emins lovely boudoir it nevertheless is tuning me into shit like squirrels in the walls. Say no more. This reminded me that I hadn’t watched Tideland for a while. I wrote a poem that was inspired by it, I love a lot of the cinematography and the idea of darkness in childhood and the brutality of reality combined with an absolute ability to disappear into imagination and magic. The protagonist, a kid called Jeliza Rose, incidentally shares the names I intend to use if I ever drop girls, possibly twins; apparently its in the family. Eliza (one of my middle names) and Rose (i just like it). So I have to do Tideland tonight. I can live harmoniously with strange tapping squirrels.

Only four weeks to go now and my degree is done. This summer I will finish The Panopticon. I will also read some stuff that I actually want to read or re-read, like Tesla’s Ghost by Darran Anderson or Cigarettes in Bed by Adelle Stripe, John Dorsey’s book, Joe Ridgwell’s Burrito Deluxe and Lost Elation again to name but a few. Incidentally – in writing people are always going on about not being ‘incestuous’ even though all scenes: just are! I am inspired by a lot of people and interested by a lot of writers work: who are not necessarily well-known (neither am I) why is it so bad to write about that or turn people onto great shit still languishing in relative obscurity? In music, which I did for ages, it was all good to find other music you liked that existed in a maelstrom of undergrounds .. an tell all the other musicians you knew about it. Writing is too self conscious about itself. Everyone seems to be trying to be clever or create a really cool persona and be taken seriously by not fawning. Well fawning is yawnworthy right enough but writers are not cool, we’re dull as fuck and are probably best avoided.

I am not a critic. I like what I like and if I don’t like it I’m not wasting words writing about it. I don’t like critics. They lack imagination. I don’t personally feel the need to elevate myself by pulling someone else’s work apart for no reason, (critics quite often seem to be doing this to appear – credible or because they think they are the gods of good taste or maybe just to make themselves seem important to somebody?) I don’t need to appear credible, my credibility is ingrained, I have no persona to create, I am not a performer, I am a writer and poet and for me the words come first, that’s all. Sometimes critics just like a good witch-hunt. For an example of this take a look at the response to the playwright Sarah Kane’s plays. She often wrote some stunning stuff and used lyrics to great effect in her work as well. Maybe a lot of critics represent a social place in society that they feel needs to tell everyone else – they are right, and what is good and not good. That must be the other reason I don’t like them. I have never liked being told what to do and even less so, what to think.

Personas are not there are some people I adore to watch read or on stage, I could  have listened to Burroughs all day, Gertrude Stein although I don’t like all her work I would love to have seen, Henry Rollins live is great, I can watch Nick Cave do bits of his novels or poems quite happily, I adore in writers what I like in older comfortable musicians like the Patti Smith group or Can or when I saw Odetta sing at 80 years old a few years ago, a really natural sense of ease and I’d like to get to that state of ease some day. Interestingly a lot of the best writers seem to be the least socially smooth and a lot of the wankers seem so confident it gives me the creeps. I get told I’m prickly at readings and I don’t want to be I just suffer from acute social anxiety, am not too strong on the comedic crowd pleasers and what seems prickly to a lot of people .. where I come from, was just a necessary and normal way to be. Doesn’t anyone like to be scared by anything anymore? Iggy Pop was great at antagonising and weirding out audiences who came to the early Stooges years. And also – to be fair, readings are full of tossers. Every-time I go to one I cringe at how self indulgent they can often be. Show me something honest and you’ve got me. It doesn’t need to be shiny. Shiny has its place though, I guess it is different things that catch me but that raw bit that is a real writer not being a persona or even if they are; not acting, I guess I just get that the most.

Anyway. Critics. That’s for academics or theorists, I’m not one of those. I’m a writer, so if asked for honest feedback I will give it and most writers hate that. I don’t know why. Every single time I have got better as a writer it has been because someone, usually a better writer, has been able to give me good solid criticism. Words can’t kill you and they rarely pay the rent; grow a leather hide if you want to be open to genuine honesty and improve, it’s necessary!

Anyway. This summer I plan to do a load more of J.G. Ballard, also some scientific ones I’ve been wanting to read for a while, James Kelman’s new novel and perhaps some of his old stuff. I may do Mervyn Peaks trilogy, Wallace Stevens and Celine. I will read The Faraway Tree.

I did a reading last night. I got drunk before I read which helped with the palpitations. I cannot seem to get to the point of loving the sound of my own voice on a stage on my own with staring people. I would like to though. I owe the words it, I spend enough time on them. Perhaps I might read for the squirrels. Maybe they can help me relax into just telling stories or poems, and to lose my acute sense of awareness on how it is to be.

Anyway, here is my film poem from the original Urchin Belle, sayonara Jx.

It Should Be Dark,

So You Can See

There is always a scene

you didn’t see last time.

A horse wearing a dress,

a fold in the curtain

that wasn’t there

an’ a line

you never heard,

delivered as she adusts

a stocking you swear

she didn’t wear

before breakfast.

The grey skies of the first time

blink to orange glass.

That celluloid breathes,

re-coats the dream

in a silent whirr

whilst you sleep.

The barley fields

sway in waves,

an’ his submarine

is a burnt out car,

the bombs he lobs

are apples whose stalks

he pulls out with his teeth.

Bee lady of murk marches

with her square face,

an’ her widow scarf

an’ that one

creamy red engorged

eye un-blinks; your fear perceptible.

The room should

be dark, so you can see.

So you can hear the score,

as shadows leap an pirouette

along the walls

and kiss through all the adverts.

And you too

are in the silent shadow film,

wigged in smoke curls

lifting a cup of tea that points in disbelief

as horns grow out your ears

and your nose falls off.

You are different;

each time you watch.

Same jeans but sore heart

chipped nails, patting the cat

glasses on, after she died

eating popcorn, snow

an’ rain an’ hail outside

an’ that scene you didn’t notice

the last seventeen times

materialises.

And the same scenes,

they too are different.