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  1. 1. JOY Friday, December 22nd, 2006 Friday 22nd December cool, grey and still Tis the season not to go to official events. Watched Crash the other night with Gabriel, Peter out at the Governors’ dinner, both of us two feeling a bit down on our luck; another one I missed when it was new. A gentle, blowsy, slightly crass movie with its heart in the right place, but it’s a funny thing, in the USA they think this is all about the RACE problem, whereas to anyone outside that peculiar territory it’s blatantly a movie about the GUN problem. I tell you, if guns could be had over the counter in the UK, I know a few relatives of mine who’d be doing life by now. (And others who would be dead, of course). Listening, Low and Cockburn. Drinking, a James Bond. Shopping, cleaning floors, peeling the chestnuts we scrumped with Maude in Patcham Woods in October, putting up streamers, frightening the cats, Sunday the ham and Lulu’s party; tomorrow to the magic wood, but right now it’s time for the final episode of Rainbow Bridge. What did you expect, at the end of Bold As Love? A happy ending? Yes. JOY Have a totally random Christmas and a confabulating New Year. Signing off. Proof-reading Tuesday, December 19th, 2006 19th December weather same as it was an hour ago Proof-reading, the fragility of outside links, ah, now I remember why I gave up on them, but then the pages get so cluttered with behaviours, which my nanny treats like suspect popups, annoyingly. Anyway, dommage, Running-Dog, famed irreverent chinawatch blog, from inside the belly of the dragon or is it phoenix, is gone, (unsurprisingly),hope they are okay, can find no news of them later than August. Replaced the link with a profile interview of the editors. That quirky french blogspot, the reason why I used it as my Green Day link is gone with the wind. Never mind, it can stay. Mulan and Empress Wu links replaced with (I hope) more stable material… The bitch about scafell landscaping retrieved from where it had fallen down a virtual radiator, and i decided to keep the grebes tho’ I can’t find their link. Replaced it with rspb. Anyway, that’s one ready to upload. Posted in Uncategorized | Edit | Comments Off
  2. 2. Follow the bouncing ball Tuesday, December 19th, 2006 19th December, Tuesday “Cold snap” continues… Last night I finished Gravity’s Rainbow again, sixth time of reading; the first is unrecorded, the second was in 1978, in Singapore. Passed the anachronistic helicopter joke (which I’ve never thought very funny), through the Raketen Stadt, which I used to like because it’s so like an (anachronistic) video game, with its collapsing buildings and arbitrary location shifts; or like a T Mobile ad. But it goes on a bit. Past Geli Tripping’s lyrical green summoning, and there go the I Ching feet, and finally the 00000 launch flashback, with all its lascivious, guilt/s**t orgasm detail (this book was not written to be read by me, I read it inspite of every sign that says DO NOT ENTER). And so goodbye. I’ll be a different person next time. have you ever waited for it? wondering whether it will come from outside or inside, finally past the futile guesses as what might happen… The fourth time I read GR I started it in Feb 99 (yes, it is a bit obsessive, isn’t it?), the beginning of a great year. I wonder how long before I pick it up again, and what will have happened to me by then? Next time I pick up one of the big three, (probably after a festive break) it will be for a long time I used to go to bed early… I’ve just realised that the above constitutes a rare, normal use of the internet and a blogspot. I’ll be downloading ebaum videos and catloguing my books on here yet. No! No! hope not fear tour Sunday, December 17th, 2006 17th December Clear night, starlight, almost chilly The dark red page with the “crucible of change” text is up again on Bold As Love the website, it was always my favourite. This means that it’s all over, put to bed (tho’ I still have to finish proof-reading). And it’s the last waltz for the Triumvirate, although not quite the end of the story, one more episode to go. There is no armour against dumb luck. You get what you need. The freedom of the rose tree is the rose.
  3. 3. That milkman of human kindness is a hard working lad.True, there was a fair amount of talking between the songs, but a three hour show, and the hope not fear tour consists of Billy Bragg, with. . . Billy Bragg and his stage crew. How his voice survives I do not know. Cracking rhythm guitar. Poor man is one of those people the mejafolk never noticed is a terrific musician because duh, he does politics doesn’t he? But never say die, eh? No paseran.* *I found a bitching anti-European anti-leftwing website by that name, just now. Attacking Women’s Hour for its wingey radical opinions, for heaven’s sake. BUT, he won a prize for his blog last year. Who from, I wonder? (all the romantic defeats, all the misused slogans, corpses in the mouths of the stupid, and all the inchworm victories. A bnp councillor in Dagenham is going to look like crumpled rose leaves, if the Long Emergency really gets its teeth.) Oh no! My supply of Siberia hardbacks turns out to be the Italian edition.This is dreadful.Turn loft upside down and inside out. Antique video cameras, boxes of old toys, bodyboards, whyonearth are we still keeping Gabriel’s pushchair, what are these random pieces of timber about? Siberia refuses to turn up, ooh dear. The traveller, Excellence Saturday, December 16th, 2006 15th December Bright and faintly chilly Christmas, ouch, and Bibi isn’t moving very fast, oh dear. Back to usual long daft hours after the break, that’s the problem with R&R, the work just sits and waits for you. The script for Siberia the movie arrives… shall I read it? Maybe not. Maybe I’ll read it at a later stage, if movie really going to happen What are we going to do for New Year’s PG? (former plans involving my parents having been scuppered) Partner mutters something about can’t we just stay in, next thing I know he’s booked us into Pinxo People’s NY Eve upstairs party. Excellent news! Hm, wonder what the centre of Brighton and Hove will be like? Sodom and Gommorah, most probably. Party on. London To Brighton Wednesday, December 13th, 2006 13th December Same as it was ten minutes ago
  4. 4. Went to see London to Brighton, it is very good. I’m going to give up going to see harsh movies. No more guns, no more abject grit, I’ve had enough for a while. Think I’ll stick to Studio Ghibli over Christmas I wonder what Milo has against New Scientist. He’s opened my cuttings folder and is shredding the contents… Map End Dagger Show Wednesday, December 13th, 2006 13th December, grey and mild, surprise surprise The Feast of St Lucy, (13th Dec 88) one of Gabriel’s major artworks, is still on the basement wall. It has something astronomical about it, I think, and a real feeling for balance and colour. Happy birthday Lucy, hope you got the card. The Chinese proverb “Map End Dagger Show” refers to a botched assassination attempt on the man who was on his way to becoming Shi Huangdi, the implication is that you often only find out who your enemies are at the last moment of your dealings with them (compare, you always find something the last place you look, duh). Chinese sayings rely a lot on shared cultural context, just as ours do, which doesn’t mean people remember. The connection between the words and the meaning may have become totally opaque, long before the expression is abandoned. Who’s Jesus? What five thousand? Anyway, coincidentally, the ante-penultimate episode of Rainbow Bridge is up: it’s not over til it’s over Women and animals, hmm… Sunday, December 10th, 2006 10th December Dark skies. Is it almost chilly? Relatively, with a lot of imagination, is it a wintery day? The daphne, inspite of having been ripped in half by a large person falling on it in the dark at a summer party, is rich in bud, my Lulu Belle has one dishevelled flower and several nearly open. By the end of the week I’ll have a winter bouquet by my bed, I’ll be La Dame Aux Camellias coff coff. But as I was saying, fur and gold, women and animals… It was never horses, not for me, not really. When I was a little child my alter ego was a grey swan, she was called Greyey, the grey swan (original, huh?). Fiorinda, very, attentive Bold As Love readers might have noticed, is a horse, according to Chinese horoscopes; and it suits her. But her totem animal must be a red deer, for here she is, drifting into snowy ambush, all unaware.
  5. 5. The serial will be finished by the time the Bold As Love site gets its classic front page back (reconstucted for the whole five books), ie before Xmas. But it won’t disappear, I have plans for it and meanwhile it’ll still be reachable from this blog. Bats in St George’s Friday, December 8th, 2006 8th December thick grey sky in the valley, palewashed bowl over the sea, tough beech leaves bright on the swampy mulch of sycamore and lime. A dog fox running ahead of me along the green path to the funeral chapel, grass full of beads of rain Think I’ll turn out to see this gothicky sounding thing at St George’s… Oh really? Okay, text me, I’m not sure where St George’s is, are you? St George’s is a beautiful building up in the far east end of Kemptown, elegant galleried interior, on the cusp between 18thC grace and neo-goth. I walked so I wouldn’t miss it, a long way in the blustery dark, luckily monsoon type rain was taking a break. Full house, well, naturally, having snagged “Gig of the week” in the Independent, clever girls. Strange support act, which I spent illicitly trying to text PG, blind as a bat in the dark as I’d been obliged to remove my contact lenses, I can usually do more than twelve hours, but not this time… Natasha Khan is (says here) a scion of the Khan squash clan. She has a very good voice, insouciant charm, good hands, good musicians in her band. They’ve got the look, they’ve got the style, they seem like another race, elfin and incorruptible. St George’s is a live Christian church, C of E, full of invitations to dogged goodwill activities, what an intriguing place for a Christmas rock gig in bleak times, eh. There was a huge Christmas tree propped against the back wall of the sanctuary, waiting in the wings for its turn, a king from the crib made a guest appearence for one number. I’m glad I made the effort. I’d leave the house for these people again, any time. Which is saying something. My eyes are still sore. Tomorrow, the AI Greetings Card vigil at the Friend’s Meeting Place. See you there. When you see Wednesday, December 6th, 2006 6th December Sunny and warm. St Nicolas left chocolate in the shoes, as always. Milo has eaten more parlour palm, bad kitten. When you see spam business opportunities wearing flowers in their hair, you know it’s time to revert to chaste white backgrounds and a conservative font. I’m getting tempted to edit the Castles Made Of Sand pages, pull out all those lurid Heavy Metal
  6. 6. colours, which seemed so appropriate at the time, when I put the Bold As Love site to bed forever, real soon now. Would that be grave-robbing? What I’m really looking for. . . Thursday, November 30th, 2006 30th Nov breezy and cooler, matte grey skies What I’m looking for is A Door Into Ocean, Joan Slonczewski, so’s I can continue my review of the ancients. Unfortunately my loft has reached the point in its cycle when recataloguing has to be undertaken, just to clear floor space. I can see the Women’s Press cover in my mind’s eye… It’s here, but I haven’t a chance. The light from the single bulb only makes shadows wherever I look, and the wind sounds like the ocean… Red Carpet books, huh. Black hole, more like, and this is another. Curses! Gabriel told me not to trust Amazon Used&New, & I wouldn’t listen. Poshlaia Wednesday, November 29th, 2006 Weds 29th November Sunny, warm One bust (head and shoulders) of a boy, in unglazed clay, ears are like two small half moons stuck on the sides of his head, hands (at least, the one pressed to his breast in a salute of some kind) like bunched squid tentacles. Circa 1994-97. Small dark “amber” cat (like hell) that I bought in Kracow, spending my per diem slotys. Fluffy rabbit, formerly white, possibly originally an Easter decoration. Chinese porcelain rabbit, also white, formerly v.pretty; minus ears. I gave it to Peter for his birthday when he was twenty one. Carved wooden rabbit. Pewter cat, sleeping, very pretty, a present from Ruth, my sister in law. Thai Cloisonne enamal covered urn, and offering tray; miniature, about the same vintage as the cat. Plecs, various. A stalk of withered heather, from Ashdown. Section of birch bark, without a seam, about 10cm high; ditto. Small painted duck, provenance unknown. Portugese cockerel bought by Gabriel in Lisbon, 1998: think it must be cast iron, enamelled in black, red, blue, white. One minute china flagon, with a pattern of pink roses, picked up on the beach after the big storm in 1990. Two handled striped vase, glazed. It does not hold water. Three pay slips. Framed photograph of Gabriel as a toddler, wearing his helicopter hat. . . I’m restoring the painted fireplace in the basement (devotees of this blog will recall, I’m sure, that Gabriel and I had a fire-lighting accident involving this paintwork, some time ago. All right, it was January, Mozart’s Birthday). And playing Kim’s game with the refugees. I have long thought I had a word for tiny household gods and the scum of less-than-nothing that gathers around them: poshlaia, the lint that collects in society’s navel. I’ve treasured the term since I met it in Jack Womack’s “Let’s Put
  7. 7. The Future Behind Us” (I’m not alone: when I put the word in a search engine, the first reference that came up was that very book). But now I find I remembered it wrong. poshlost/poshlaia is derogatory, “made up of banality, vulgarity and sham. . .spurious beauty, spurious cleverness”. Nah, the china rabbit with no ears is not spurious, beautiful or clever. It’s just something that lives on the mantelpiece. It’s just a kind of meerschaum tram. Conflict Gems Tuesday, November 28th, 2006 28th November Rain, but it’s stopped now; settled low cloud. Big Band are playing Lewes tonight, at All Saints. We’ll be there, of course, but tho’ I don’t really get on with Jazz, Swing is fine, so it’s not a chore. The homepage update is done, and it’s posted: that went very smoothly. At least, phase one is done. Of course there’s a phase two, but it’ll wait for a while. And another episode of Rainbow Bridge, getting close to the goal now: this is the Sydenham Strong Box Raid. Strange, since Richard moved me to this new server, I get spam comments on the old posts, just one or two; although they’re supposed to be closed. If I can’t stop the leak, may have to delete the offending articles. No bad thing. Pan’s Labyrinth Monday, November 27th, 2006 Monday 27th Nov Day started dark, clearing to sunshine. Gales over the weekend didn’t really materialise for us, unless I was asleep… Still evilly, ominously warm, like “Winter” in South Australia. Finished the rough of my homepage update, that should go up this week. Including a taster of Big Cat, a Bold As Love story, which Andy Cox & co are going to publish in IZ’s 25th anniversary issue. Did I mention, Farah’s Glorifying Terrorism proofs reached me last week? With a Voltairean intro by Andrew MacKie, even. I wonder where this is going? Should I prepare to be arrested? Nah, they’ll go after the real criminals, of whom there seem to be plenty. I got away with the child abuse, inspite of citizen’s arrest. Think I’ll get away with a little s*** . Gabriel off to London before dawn for his first two Music College auditions. As it were the boss fight of this level, but he’s well built up. Good luck, Gabriel. We saw Pan’s Labyrinth on Saturday, good movie, reminded me v. much of Spirit of the Beehive; which I think far superior, but it was so long ago.. I liked the special effects esp the praying mantis fairies. I like praying mantises. Had to be a downbeat ending, as of course the Guerillas didn’t win, but also rather creepy. Altessa Ofelia (representing “Spain” I surmise) having remained seduced by fascism, (spot the
  8. 8. monarchism, also the unquestioning obedience to a leader, I just noticed), gets a very spooky heavenly reward. Ah, but her little brother will live, and be free, and never know his father’s name. I could be making up the subtext, but you bring fauns, you bring allegory, sorry. Safe As Milk* Friday, November 24th, 2006 24th November dark day, wet and blustery. What happened to Labour/New Labour’s vision for this country, since 1945? When did the dream of making people better, of civilisation for all, become a dream of greedy appetites, and giving the people any poisonous thing they cry for?Answers on a postcard, but for the sake of romantic drama I think I’d have the bodies buried the same place Edge Of Darkness put them. Safe as milk, anyone? *if you never heard of Captain Beefheart and you don’t know what this means, try these key terms in the search engine of your choice; it was only a little thing, storm in a teacup: Windscale. 1957 Casino Royale Tuesday, November 21st, 2006 Tues 21st, weather unchanged in the last ten minutes. Went to see the new Casino Royale last night. Superb, right from the credits (tho’ not the song). Ah, but it should have been the Riviera, the way it was when I was a little girl. Should have been a carpet-beater too, only I suppose the filmmakers couldn’t figure out where le Chiffre would have found such a thing in 2006. Ah, Mr Bond, I have a surprise for you from my quirky collection of antique cleaning utensils… Other updates didn’t worry me. Baccarat or poker, all same to me. I think they’ll do the rest of the Ian Flemings over again, now that they’ve found Daniel Craig, and an idiom, and a time so like the original times. And a plump, tasty looking Leiter. Is this stuff the enemy of all I hold dear? Certainly it is, but what do you suggest I do? Not admire or enjoy anything? Nah, boring. Can you see Bond as our holy pictures, our repertoire of iconography? Our Nativity Scenes, our Pietas, our Entombments, our Road to Emmeas, painted over and over by generations of popular yet revered artists? This saviour, who has no agenda of his own; who carries out, resistant but always in the end obedient, the commands of an omniscient, a stern and loving mother. Who is not good, because we cannot perceive ourselves as good, but whose intrinsically bad actions -superficial, ignorant and
  9. 9. heartless- somehow, mysteriously, “save lives”. Which is just what we wish for ourselves, for our own greedy luxurious appetites and our own mindless violence… Hm, been reading too much Gravity’s Rainbow. And here’s the next episode of the other Rainbow. Eskdale Moor and Scafell, and just to please one of my critics (can’t please everyone!), an RSPB disclaimer for the invisible wind-turbines. The rockstars getting restive, like the Beatles in 1966. Taking the harder drugs they vowed they’d never take. Trying things they maybe should not try... Three Red Berries Tuesday, November 21st, 2006 Tues 21st, light cloud, slight chill. Three red berries on the holly tree, how old is it now? Maybe eight, ten years old? We’ll be eighty before we’re decking the halls at this rate, but they’ve grown bright, I feared they were going to be murky orange, as some holly berries naturally are, looking like the organic, doesn’t-taste-so-nice version. Did I mention we finally saw The Devil Wears Prada last week? Meryl Streep was tremendous, the clothes v. nice, the indispensible “Nigel” character indispensible, & I was not allowed to miss a single Audrey Hepburn ref. Didn’t like the ending. So, ol’ doe-eyes is to renounce cut-throat office politics and do something meaningful that she can believe in, by becoming a New York journalist???? That’s a Fifties reference too far. And she’s sacrificing her career for love, whereas her lover is a sous-chef, those well-known home-bodies, just about to take an obsessive job in another city? How romantic of her. Not helped by fact that ol’ doe-eyes love interest played by the same lad as plays that starlet in Entourage, who is paid good money to look insincere, vapid and fickle. . . She’s going to get divorced a time or two anyway: she should have stuck with Meryl Streep & at least set the world on fire. But he can’t switch it off Thursday, November 16th, 2006 16th Nov, grey and blustery. Enticing autumn weather, I want to get outdoors but am chained to my desk Death’s head mask link from Boing Boing, forwarded to me by an Aoxomoxoa fan. Check it out. The Lanternbearers Wednesday, November 15th, 2006 15th Nov Big chunk of Rainbow Bridge this time. The Lanternbearers is a Rosemary Sutcliff ref
  10. 10. btw. No crypto-political-memoir roman fleuve about English Dreamers would be complete without a swift round-up of the regrettable but nostalgic Right Wing: check the list, John Ruskin, William Wordsworth, Arthur Ransome, Eddison (you knew, of course, that The Worm Ouroboros is set in Wasdale, with excursions to Mercury?). Morris dancers and a duckrace... Byron the Bulb Wednesday, November 15th, 2006 15th November grey weather, like November only much warmer Byron the bulb! Old pal! I’ve reached the story of Byron the Bulb at last, I’d completely forgotten it was so near the end. For the record, Slothrop doesn’t turn into a tree, that was Bob Peck in Edge of Darkness (and the actor refused to do it…) He becomes a crossroads. Of course, I knew that. David Hartwell sends me Kathleen Ann Goonan’s “IN WAR TIMES”. A treat. I’ve only just started but it’s shaping up to be some kind of Gravity’s Rainbow neurophysics story, set in December 1941 (so guess what the main event might be). But not quite the 1941 I know… Samhain Tuesday, October 31st, 2006 Oct 31st Light, colourless sky, cloud, blustery wind Back in business, just in time for the New Year. Samhain always seems a dismal time to mark as the turning point, and more so in the slightly threatening warmth of this October. Maybe that’s the point, or maybe it means something vigorous in old temperate zone agricultural calendar. On the other hand Eid ul Fitr I was in Manchester, stunningly beautiful evening, the giant crescent of the new moon in a peachbloom sky over Harpurhey, sparrow fest in the thorn trees by the pharmacy. On re-reading Native Tongue (Suzette Haden Elgin) No, it’s no use, I thought it was dull then, I found it dull again. Not even a period-piece. Allowing for my childish taste for bright colours, sharp and sour flavours, still can’t see where this book is going. The linguistics aspect seems anoraky, only the Middle America band of the USA exists, and Women, by the end of it, have achieved the huge victory of being sectioned off into all-female ghettos by their grumpy menfolk. Huh?
  11. 11. But must not judge. Strange the way I run into really angry 21st century male sf fan reactions to femsf classics, as I research this chapter, like future echoes of the reason why… Get a grip, chaps, it’s been over for twenty years. And you won! (Not only did you win, but arguably you also got to reconstruct our territory on more acceptable lines, as magnanimous victors tend to do…) Not entirely changing the subject, thank you to the blogger (forget name and URL) who spotted that the writer of “The Fulcrum” (Best SF 23, The Very Best of Sf 2005) was “channelling M. John Harrison”. Yes, yes, that’s exactly what I was doing. With a touch of Richard Morgan. Not entirely changing the subject #2, here’s another episode from Rainbow Bridge. The people whose lives we touch, and we never felt a thing. The way you suddenly find out something new about things you thought long buried, long burned- out… Diamonds and Rust. On Re-reading Sheri Tepper Sunday, October 1st, 2006 Ist October, thunderstorm Ginger is out in it, sitting unde a patio chair, watching lightning. She loves storms On Re-reading Sheri Tepper: Women’s Liberation is good for the planet. In the so-called Developing World, the most effective way of reducing the number of children each woman bears is female literacy. No other contraceptive works so well. In the so-called Developed World, women’s (economic and civil) liberation is a trojan horse in the heart of capitalism. It increases the labour pool and more than doubles the consumer appetite, but it sends the birthrate plummeting. Indeed, women’s liberation seems to indicate that ifall women only had children if & when they really liked the idea, we’d have a net problem replacing ourselves, and no worries about paving the world with our teeming masses. Feminism is on much shakier ground vis a vis saving the world, because feminism desires the social and cultural change that makes men less “masculine” and makes women who are economically independent more likely to stay married and get pregnant (more than once). An epidemic of caring sharing fathers, and what would happen to the rosy die-back graph in the Russian Fed, Poland, Italy??? Discuss. On re-reading Mary Gentle Golden Witchbreed, what a magnificent fantasy; and in 1983 surely groundbreaking for the tacit, taken-for-granted sexual equality of the humanoid Ortheans. Without a single comment from the human envoy, tho’ there are hints life on earth is not like so. What a shame there was never an award for feminist sf. The Tiptree? Nope, that’s for books about gender: “Exploring and expanding gender roles” . Arguably, ironically, the kind of book female fans of adventure fantasy and scifi would most prefer to avoid. Augh! We came to genre, as to the foreign legion, to forget…
  12. 12. Ghosts: Ginger and Milo Friday, September 29th, 2006 29th September Clammy, rainclouds. I bet I know why there’s an “insomnia epidemic”. One reason anyway. It’s a wrinkle in our share of the net rise that was talked about a while ago, and then forgotten. No egg-frying daylight temperatures, it’s more that the differential between night and day has collapsed. We’re used to cool nights for sleeping, and we don’t get them. Ginger and Milo: Tuesday 26th, outside Gabriel’s room. She knows there’s another cat in the house, she’s being allowed to see him for the first time. Ginger sees a tiny, skinny-built tabby kitten with huge ears. She stares in troubled amazement. What??? I’m sure that’s not mine. Can’t be anything to do with me. They’re messing with my head! The kitten takes a run at her, they touch noses. Session closed, quit when you are winning. Thursday 28th, we progress. Kitten allowed out in the basement, where he races about while Ginger sits and stares. He eats, she watches carefully. I remember how she used to love to sit and watch Frank eat. Again, we close the session when the kitten gets too bold. His idea of a conversational gambit is leaping at the older cat, tiny claws and fangs outspread. Hey! Mrs! Want to play murder??? Ginger is showing no signs of stress. Sleeping in her usual spot by my bed, begging for cheese, sitting in my jigsaw pieces, all the usual noises. I wish us luck. Speeding up the pace with the Rainbow Bridge serial now. Two episodes up on my homepage. One more big chapt222222222222222222222 (that’s Milo, hs mark) after this, and we’re on the home straight. There’s only one moment really. One point on which this five-volume story turns, or maybe two. Always coming back, round again. Ghosts Did I ever mention that the serial is the director’s cut? I’m re-editing as I go, just a little bit. All the Bold As Love books except the first were such a race against time, whole thing such a tour de force. . . The last state of a book can be worse than the first, writers find it hard to leave well enough alone. But in this case, I know I’m getting it closer to the bone, sharper at the edge. Every word a wanted word.
  13. 13. Posted in Uncategorized | Edit | Comments Off monsoon weather Monday, September 25th, 2006 Monday, 25th September Monsoon weather, clammy between downpours Diana Hutchison, who wrote asking did I have any more copies of Seven Tales for sale (the answer is yes I do. I mean to put my “rare” books back up on Amazon used and new real soon now, but you’re welcome to apply to me direct), reports that she found an internet article saying how the Bold As Love characters are based on “well- known people in the real world”. Which real world? Maybe they’re all secretly sf mavens, disguised as heroic musicians… What an intriguing idea, wish I’d thought of it. Sadly, she never found the article again, ah well. Joan Haran writes asking do I have any Deconstructing The Starships. Same answer as above, yes I do have copies of the paperback, very reasonably priced, apply to the usual email address. Life begins anew, again. Soon I’ll be updating my homepage, which I have not had the heart to touch for months, except to refresh the Rainbow Bridge serial, because it would have meant taking Frank’s name down. But now I will, because Milo joined the household yesterday. He’s a Bengal/Siamese cross, bit of Ragdoll too, apparently, making him technically a “Serengeti”, a fantasy breed in the process of being invented. The Cat Fancy disapproves of the wild animals in the living room idea, and quite right too. But no actual Savannah cats were used in creating this product, no no. At the moment he’s just tiny, ticked pale rabbit brown with faint stripes, an alarming propensity for climbing things and very big ears. Hope we can convince Ginger this is a good idea… “Because we don’t know, we get to think of life as limitless…” I’ve been looking at old diaries (tracing Gabriel’s cv for him, for the monumental task of filling in music college applications; from which Milo is distracting him). It’s startling to see how little has changed, through all the changes that seemed momentous, in the tracks that my life runs on. But however often you keep coming back, round and round the helix, there will be a time that’s the last time, and so it is with the Few, after Rainbow Bridge: Weak Become Heroes. The quotation is from The Sheltering Sky, btw, Paul Bowles. Posted in Uncategorized | Edit | Comments Off Blood and Oil Sunday, September 24th, 2006 Saturday 23rd September Clear blue, very warm
  14. 14. here I am in Manchester for the stopthewar demonstration, milling around in Albert Square in a crowd of the usual suspects, all by myself, vaguely looking for the Brighton contingent, but there are just too many banners, too many placards, drummers, dancers: feeling a little disoriented, tell you the truth, because I just went to see my parents, who have finally moved in with my sister, and I was hoping also to pay a short visit to the old homestead, which is to be sold. Nah, too late, it’s all over, the locks have been changed. I saw the pictures from the front room (old prints of Coniston Old Man, Derwentwater, Brixham Harbour) stacked in my sister’s hall: and that’s the end of that. Never mind, some time had to be the last time. it’s a big crowd, the numbers harder to assess than they would be in London, where one has a feel for it, but the police are saying 25k and it’s probably at least that. Trust my fair city, everyone seems mighty pleased with this fact. Even the police look chuffed. Of course, we know how to do this. We’re having a BIG demo, big as London, not one of your little wimpy things. A shoulder to shoulder cordon of yellow jackets and a phalanx of horses guards the fancy hotels; presumably there are some conference-goers already installed, peeping from behind their net curtains. Tony Tony Tony, Out Out Out… They say there’s no such thing as bad publicity, but even Tony Blair must be beginning to wonder. I neglect to join in. Talk about flogging a dead horse. Any idea who we might want to be In, In In? I don’t recall seeing Gordon Brown on the stage at that Hyde Park rally three years ago, nor John Reid, nor whatisname. Much less trudging down the Mall wiv his little placard on a stick. We have no friends in the leadership race. How could we? Who let the bombs out? Bush and Blair, Bush and Blair! I’ll chant to that. Oh, we’re off. Here we go, treading a circuit around the cordoned-off centre of the city, thousands upon thousands, in this hallowed ritual. I think of the Whit Walks, which used to be a big deal when I was a child. Uncles scouted for orange boxes to sit on, the pavements were packed, parents bought us paper streamers to wave. Today pleasure shoppers flaneuses and flaneurs (yep, Manchester has flaneurs these days) take a break from foraging in Harvey Nicks: 21st C affluent cafe society idly watches our progress. And remember, everyone. At two thirty we’re all going to die… I died by GMEX, it happened without fuss. Black balloons rose into the blue, like butterflies escaping this mortal coil. Stewards had to go round coaxing people to get up again: it was a hot day and we were tired. Troops Out? Okay, I’ll chant to that. Don’t attack Iran. No replacement for Trident. I’ll chant to both of those. What is the logic in replacing Trident, pray? Aren’t Weapons of Mass Destruction wrong? As usual, I’m wishing I felt more comfortable, more at peace with the peace movement. I don’t like the hard left any better than I ever did, (the people’s right to plunder the earth and drown it in 4×4s); and I have major trouble with Islam’s global human rights record (don’t get me started). I think of Fascism and Communism, squaring up to each other in the thirties, and I get a very miserable feeling. Different but the same… Will I end up having to support a war that’s rotten at the roots, because the underdogs have grown fangs and turned into almost supernatural monsters? A plague upon both your houses (I may have said that before). i don’t want to be here at all, this whole business is a stupid distraction & the woods are still burning.
  15. 15. But in September 2001 something really terrible happened to the world. The day the suicide bombers took out the World Trade Towers, I was shocked at the death toll, but I wasn’t exactlly surprised. It was US foreign policy coming home to roost, weapons trade policy coming home to roost. Why should the Islamists play nicely? They are neither dumb nor docile, you know. And despite what you preach, in real life you have given them every encouragement for these tactics… Five years on, we all have to take our hats of to those Al Queeda people. The plan to destroy Western Civilisation is succeeding admirably, oh, they really did a job on Western Civilisation that day. But those crazy no-good Ragheads had help, cousins. They’ve had eager, eager assistance, a marriage of true minds, or they’d never have succeeded. The happy pact was signed without delay, and we’re all going to hell for it. I’m one of Amnesty International’s Urgent Action volunteers. That means we write letters, faxes, emails not to prisoners but to the people who do the locking up. There is a window (a few days, a few weeks) when you can sometimes save someone’s life. Stop an illegal detention from turning into another “disappearence”. That’s when I really feel the difference that the last five years have made. I’m quoting chapter and verse from the Declaration of Human Rights at the presidents, prime ministers, foreign ministers, governors. I’m supposed to say, torture is outlawed in all civilised countries… My own government has never been exactly blameless, througout my AI career. No one expects “blameless”. “Blameless” is unrealistic. It’s okay, has to be, for revered principles to be flouted on the quiet. But there’s a tipping point, where “revered principles” just can’t survive. The whole torture thing, the whole illegal detention thing, has gone so mass market, so normal, I feel an idiot claiming it is out of fashion. The drums can get oppressive, the hip hop star on the weird bicycle was good. Very few police on the march route, just that phalanx of horses protecting the hotels, and a more modest cordon around GMEX. Around four thirty, back at Albert Square, I quit half way through the speeches; before the rush. I know I’ll keep on coming to these demonstrations, tho’ who the hell we are demonstrating to, and what they are learning, is a mystery. Did we snag any column inches, any footage on the news? I dunno, I was on the train home. Silence is shame. More later. Posted in Uncategorized | Edit | Comments Off Turning the Compost Monday, September 18th, 2006 18th September warm and clear More seasonal tasks, we are experts at this one, we are veterans, we’ve tried everything, inc the one by the back door that used to get raided by the dog next door: rotten pickled chinese vegetables made it very, very sick, and the time we ambushed a
  16. 16. young rat in the wormery, with a baseball bat… We just generate too much waste. We will drown in our own midden one of these days, the scraps of mouldy bread and festering salad will pile higher than the house. The only solution that worked was the heap at Hartington Terrace, in its old wooden pen. We have no room for such a thing! The only solution that REALLY works (cf also slugs and snails) is have a bigger garden. Still, the Green Cone wasn’t too bad, real warmth inside, hardly smelly at all. Memo to selves, eggshells are banned. I see the Environmental Melt Down Issue is coming up fast in the media. It might almost be ahead of Permanent Warfare soon, which will help those who aren’t actually suffering to forget the warzones. Ah well, at least fewer people, reading the fairytale version of the global ephiphany years in Bold As Love, should find the story “unrelievedly dark” or “pessimistic”. Anyway, here’s the latest episode. Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and look for the best outcome you can get Posted in Uncategorized | Edit | Comments Off Japanese Siberia, January in Suffolk Wednesday, September 13th, 2006 Wednesday 13th September Cooler, overcast In Rainbow Bridge it’s the tipping point, the reaction begins to change pace. The Japanese edition of “Siberia” arrived yesterday. What a very pretty & stylish book, lovely cover. Tthe illustrations of the kits are like Studio Ghibli creatures. Must write & thank the people who did this. I like the hedgehog best, but Nivvy is good, looks like he’s dancing. Snakehead proofs done, tactical bio-politics to finish up, & back to the unbloggable. AI says email Margaret Beckett about the Control Arms Treaty, and I will although it’s hopeless as long as USA interests remain intransigent, as they were when refusing to countenance the regulation of the trade in “small arms” (that includes rocket launchers btw: coming soon to an urban ghetto near you). “The most effective help that western Countries could offer Africa, rather than massive aid programmes, would be to ban the sale of arms to the continent”, says the report of Dennis McNamara of the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR. Arms are the heart of the problem. The street children in Nairobi, Jatum, Monrovia, have pistols in their pockets, bandoliers on their shoulders. And we of the rich north are the ones who supplied them, we, the so-called G8…” Mr MacNamara rebukes me for using the supine term “hopeless”. Never argue your opponent’s case for them. Be unreasonable! Refuse to accept what’s evidently true, fly into a tantrum if anyone calls you intransigent. It’s messy, but it seems to work… Why should the devil have all the best tunes?
  17. 17. If I’m blinded by enthusiasm I’m okay, when I’m cool enough to see that I’ve lost eight or ten moves ahead, I tend to fold. A poor state of mind for a fighter of the long defeat. I’d never make a poker player either. Posted in Uncategorized | Edit | Comments Off What the young people are up to #n Sunday, September 10th, 2006 10th September Warm and clear Drenching the citrus, debating the compost system, grubbing rotten plums out of the “lawn”… Seasonal chores, what would we do without them? Slightly less predictably, we went down to the Gloucester this afternoon to meet the manager of Aylsbury band Mirno, fan of the Bold As Love books, ended up being extras in a pop video. Thanks for inviting us, Melissa. And I feel another flashback coming on. Monday 14th August: Souvenir buying and “Gourmet” lunch with a stork’s nest, in Eguisheim, pink-cuteness capital of Alsace; I probably preferred it in the cold and rain. Colmar, the warmest driest city in France, Unterlinden Museum in the freezing rain, the hallucinatory Issenheim Retable & more mediaeval masters. I don’t really go for mediaeval pictures, all those stunted bodies, twisted faces, death agonies, deprivation and grotesques. It’s like being expected to admire Lowry. But they make me think of Banksy railing against the art galleries. Actually, these intense,fantastic images were available to the people. Rich folk paid for them, but they were written in the the Bible in stone, they were in the churches, and ON the churches. Coincidentally reading Sheri Tepper’s “Beauty” at this time, feel bound to remark the depraved decadent Stephen King wd have been right at home in the middle ages, tho’ he’d have needed different technical skills. Unterlinden a fantastic place, but best bit in whole museum, Blaschka glass diatoms and jellyfish from 1860, incredible creations. It turns out the Natural History Museum has some of them, must go and see. A dash to the Rhine in a cracking thunderstorm. There are no ancient cities on this river, it’s changed its course too often. These days it’s in a canal at this point, but running fast as a giant storm drain under purple and magenta cloud. Got lost in the labyrinths of corn and mini-canals on the way back, lurid colours of green and water. It’s agreed, we’re quitting Alsace. It’s too cold, too wet. Drive: see how far west we can get, chasing a patch of blue sky. In Renaucourt, Franche-Comte, at the Fontaine des Fees, Peter cooked the perfect wild mushroom pasta. In the Loire valley, under the shadow of the Developed North West, we ate a dreadful takeaway pizza in a gentle chestnut wood, & were kept awake by the quacking of wild ducks. Rohan, we walked beside the Brest-Nantes canal. Carnac, on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Hordes of seaside holiday-makers stare at the fields upon fields sown with rows of stones, now fenced off by UNESCO); lick their
  18. 18. ices, return to the beach. A little further, and you can easily find yourself creeping alone into a dolmen still buried in its mound, staring up a 7m menhir in a silent grove of thorns. You think you’ve seen mysterious megaliths in Wiltshire? Carnac is on a different scale. What the hell was going on here, six thousand years ago? They left no writing, and no pictures. A military cemetery complex? It’s easy to see why that was a favoured explanation. But what kind of global war? About the most anyone can say, it seems, is that there’s no sign of any neolithic community on the same level as the rich tombs; just ordinary workaday huts. This was a sacred plain. Makes you think of the workers’ village excavated beside the Valley of the Kings; of Delos. There’s been a lot of Violet-le-Ducery apparently, alignments helpfully straightened out etc. Probably doing as much damage as the grave-robbers and the quarry work of the millenia when nobody cared. But still! Next day, the rain caught up. In Finistere the trees and hedges have only a gentle embonpoint toward the east, they are not driven as they are in our SW. But the “Pays d’Iroise” is pure Craggy Island. You would swear to God you were in County Cork, except for the names which are pure Cornwall. Prospeder, St Renan, Tregorff, Lampaul Posted in Uncategorized | Edit | Comments Off Moving day Friday, September 8th, 2006 Friady 8th Sept Warm and clear, but it feels like autumn The Yamaha C3 is installed, 6′1″ of much piano, cased in ebony poly; it looks very handsome. It arrived 11.30 or so yesterday. Labour was short. Only took an hour, lot of horse-blankets, a little more dismantling and three or four trials to get it into our front room. Damage to paintwork minimal, damage to Mr Peter Shooter’s nerves rather more. He had sworn to get it into the house for us by taking out the windows and employing a crane, if this failed. Then I handed over the money, a simple transaction: slightly amazed that he accepted a cheque of such size, from this raggy- trousered Bohemian woman. Oh well, he knows where we live. He can always come round and drop a piano on our heads. Posted in Uncategorized | Edit | No Comments » Valmy Thursday, September 7th, 2006 Holdiay snaps #2: Wednesday 9th August, on the road Temperature is still dropping. Subathing, ha!
  19. 19. Gave both Sedan and Verdun a miss. I warned Peter it would be nothing but battlefields this itinerary. Empy, empty prairie roads & then suddenly, just as I was thinking it must be around here somewhere, Valmy! The windmill on the low ridge has just been rebuilt again, after the storm of 1990; there’s more information about that feat, than about the day in 1792 when Kellerman turned back the Austrian/Prussian army; and confirmed the revolution as a political reality. But there’s his monument, flanked by period guns from Whitworths, Manchester, and approached by an avenue of spruces, rather sad looking job-lot of little Christmas trees. And there’s the quotation from Goethe. We don’t lose all the battles, just nearly all of them. We are the party of the opposition, tempering the rule of the princes of this world (who can never be dislodged). We should be content with that. Does the revolution gain anything by being “confirmed in political reality?” I think not. Being in power is not for us. But still… Here began a new epoch of the world Damn right. blue butterflies, cornfield stubble, late summer flowers. A swarm of housemartins spinning and diving around the mill’s naked arms. Thunder at Valmy, Geoffery Trease. I think I came to history the right way. First the stories (including the Gallic Wars), then the textbooks; when I was innoculated and knew that there’s always another version. Down the lane, a huge BP bio-fuels silo Late in the afternoon we reached Mandre les Quatre Tours. There aren’t any towers, they were destroyed when the Swedish army came through here, 1631, in the Thirty Years War. There’s not much of anything really. Meres and water meadows, coppiced forest. We’re moving through one of the least populated areas of Europe, in the zone where the memorials say “For the Victims” of the Great War, not “For the children of France”… The campsite, under the eaves of a forest, seemed spooky at first, but the swallows in the sanitaires decided us. What delightful company! the year of 00 Thursday, September 7th, 2006 In August, we came to a decision. The mood of this “global epiphany” has changed. You see great masses of people -not on the tv, which is controlled, but on webcasts we pretty much trust- slashing and burning for Gaia, with the same avidity that they used to follow Big Brother. New housing was being torn down all over our county, by the official, moderate revolutionaries. How could we justify hanging onto our big, underused urban property? We put Gabriel’s pianos in store, packed everything of sentimental value into the loft; and handed our keys to the Council. We took Ginger with us, and left Frank behind; a hard decision. Three weeks later we were in the Ardennes. We’d taken advice and skirted around the Developed North West, and Paris. We’d had difficulty finding fuel, “carte etrangere” doesn’t work at the pumps; but never been quite stranded.
  20. 20. We knew what we were looking for. Somewhere off the map. When I signed in, the gardienne of the campsite asked me how long we were staying. I don’t know, I said. A day or two, maybe more? She was a young woman of about thirty, crop-haired, coloured tattoos on her arms and shoulders, she somehow looked like an off-duty soldier. She surveyed me, as if she knew what I was planning. Then let us take it a night at a time, she said, dryly. We talk to our son in Barsa, when we can get through. He seems to have taken up with a Brazilian girl, journalist. That’s good. I hate to think of losing touch, but he’d be safer in South America. What are you doing?, he asked. How long are you going to keep this up? I explained that when we’re camping we live very low. Our power consumption is negligible, compared to the demands of a prosperous light-green couple in a big old house. When we want two mugs of tea we measure the water, that sort of thing. And we’ll be getting some compensation for the house. He doesn’t understand. Maybe I’m glad he doesn’t.The three walls of our bay are trees, ash and beech and pine: arum berries glowing in the undergrowth, where the robins and the blackbirds hop. Our roof is the sky. In the barnlike sanitaires swallows are bringing up their children, we meet them when we go to clean our teeth in the morning, hunched on the waterpipes. It’s always raining, and chilly already. Occasionally one of their little cups of clay succumbs to gravity and damp: what a disaster that must be. I was wrong about the gardienne. We had a meeting, and she told us that the commune (which employs her) won’t be turning off the water on 15th Sept; and we’ll still have a power supply, although it will be intermittent, the same as it is for everyone. Most of us are going to try and stick it out through the winter; and after that who knows? A step at a time, a step at a time, we move towards a committment we can’t envisage all at once, a surrender I don’t want to think about just now. Tread lightly, become a small reduction in the weight the living world can no longer carry. Beyond the borders of Europe our global allies and our enemies watch us, but nothing happens. Something wicked has been overthrown: so far that’s all we know. The Dutch people in the next bay talk about going to Strasbourg. We think they’ll just be jumping around, helpless on the edge of a dangerously volatile crowd.Same in France as in England, you’re allowed to keep a car if you have no other dwelling place. At night the Toyota, parked across our doorless threshold, seems like a silver lion, couchant; on guard. The air smells of earth and water and crushed bracken. I’m afraid of what’s going to happen next, but I feel a terrible, terrible burden lifted from me. I lie and watch the rain streaming, the moon rising; blunt owl wings crossing the stars. Wrap the football around us #n Wednesday, September 6th, 2006 Wednesday 6th September,warm and clear, the garden full of gosammer, humming bird moths, dropping plums A new year begins. 06-07. Gabriel’s birthday safely passed, too much sticky chocolate cake in the fridge (Sainsbury’s I’m afraid but give us a break, there was Pete and Marly’s wedding, there was the Yamaha expo, there was post-camping- holiday fatigue, there was Lumb Bank)
  21. 21. I’ll watch for the sake of Giggsy, but only if you can promise me that Wales wins, after a surprisingly lack lustre performance from the Brazilians, same like in the World Cup. Or at least gets a goal in. Nasty laughter. Obviously I watched the game anyway, mildly wondering at this random event. Why are Wales playing Brazil at White Hart Lane? Wrap the boy-traditions around me, a refugee in a safe but alien haven, but it’s not a bad doss really. Snakehead proofs, Tactical Bio-politics, but first some holiday notes. I plan to upload some pictures, but don’t know if I can be arsed. It’s not a keystroke. So much catching up Wednesday, August 30th, 2006 30th August fair and calm, light cloud So much catching up to do, and a train to catch… I think I’ll start with the next episode of Rainbow Bridge, a neat, contained little job: and here it is I don’t believe that anyone is ever going to pay me I don’t believe in anything except the cold and the equations Home from the wars, more Rainbow Bridge Friday, August 4th, 2006 Aug 4th A clear night, stars 1am, Gatwick,in the echoing arrivals hall bug-eyed midnight relatives squeal and run to hug & here’s Gabriel, back from Benecassim and an extra week in Barsa. He had an amazing, amazing time, he got sunburned at a waterpark, wrecked his feet moshing barefoot to Babyshambles. There was Gaudi’s cathedral, there was the zoo, there was Razzamatazz, there was a fantastic sheet music shop, and a grand piano showroom where he convinced them to let him practice… No obvious depradations. Did you lose anything? No, er, except all my socks. Oh, and I lost my wallet, but I got it back with just the money gone. Oh, and I lost my watch. The tent’s okay. I left the sleeping bag behind, it was covered in ketchup. Oh, and I ditched the airbed, it was useless.
  22. 22. Er, (this in a minor key). And I’m not, er, sure about my money. You couldn’t check your balance on the ATMs, you see… You could, however, have written down the sums you extracted, on a piece of paper, and occasionally added them up, Gabriel. But there you go, he is of his generation, child of hedonists. And not entirely coincidentally here’s the next episode of Rainbow Bridge They’ve arrived where all the chickens of our polymorphous unrestraint, our eternal partytime, have come home to roost… I have a pretty painted fan. Peter has a Gaudi beer mug. We are well content. It’s cool, looks like more of that annoying drizzle, and we’re off to Brussels for my niece’s birthday. Farah Mendlesohn writes inviting me to a symposium on sf criticism next June (hm!) Lynne Jamneck sends me an interesting post, it’s on her July 26th blog entry, about Kim Westwood and I have the latest paradoxa, featuring a conversation with U.K.LeGuin & a stack of essays on genre which you really ought to get hold of, dear readers; which I think I’ll take with me to Waterloo Cloudbathing Monday, July 31st, 2006 30th July Cooler, fresher, sadly no real thunderstorms for us, heatwave just fading out. Saturday night I drank too much coffee, worked until 1am. Last night the last ever Top of the Pops, for old sakes’ sake. The first time in quite a while that I’ve watched that nostalgic old countdown, how strange to see 2006 band names on it, and how nice to get Shakira & Wycliffe (what a great mover she is), as the final number one of all time. And finished my jigsaw of Brueghel the Elder’s La Vista (collaboration with Rubens, one of the Five Senses series). What a fantastic picture, how full of meaning in its bursting compendium. I see it’s in La Prada and I need to go and see it there soon. Ha. How long is “soon”? Just one swift, tossing around very high up in the veils of grey. The sun a white pearl through scudding spindrift, the sycamore branches tossing, Val and Dave’s sumac rather gaunt (they’ve been pruning, sigh). Sunbathing is uncomfortable and tiring, besides being allegedly bad for your health. I lie on my back in the garden, bathed in cool air and flouting custom, wonder why more people don’t do this instead? The Water Margin Wednesday, July 26th, 2006
  23. 23. 26th July Still warm, bit of an overcast The next episode of Rainbow Bridge is up on infinityplus, and many thanks to Keith Brooke for hosting The Water Margin. Hazy July days, pervasive warmth, down to the sea for a dip at five, quiet meals on the patio at moth-time, and the feeling grows that this how summer ought to be. Silver linings: if you’ve been convinced, for a long time, that the human world is frying itself alive, you’re not overly alarmed by a little heatwave. Stopped for bobbins*, at four I give up pretending to work and we take the train to Glynde, to stroll back over Mount Caburn to Lewes. Dusty chalk path through the mown hay-stubble, dotted with shorn sheep, an exhausted third generation of flowers meagrely struggling back after being scythed (not really, a machine does it), larks singing, dusty brambles and glimmering enchanter’s nightshade, already in fruit. Off the pasture, through the gate to the hill fort site, the flowers are still rampant: clovers and wild marjoram, viper’s bugloss, melilot, forests of wild parsley and fennel, field scabious, rampion (ha! and complete with bumblebees, is that still normal?, have to keep reminding selves, we are a protected enclave*) fizzing with butterflies. Painted ladies, wood browns, marble whites, cinnabar moths, a charcoal-winged peacock with that arrogant upturned snout. Para-gliders on the rounded headland, patiently trying to catch a breeze, and there’s the winding Ouse, the last toasted rampart, the silver sea. Could stay here forever, never get tired of gazing into the blue vault of air and over the golden downs, as if nothing had ever gone wrong, as if our country wasn’t shamefully complicit in a massacre, in a fxxing cascade of bloody, useless, hateful massacres now, and nothing, nothing we can do… But we walk on, down into the bottom up to the golfcourse and down the banked lane (tiny late July harebells, everything’s shrinking in the heat).To Harvey’s brewery tap, by the docks of the Ouse, and Olympia Gold. There’s that cat belonging to a friend of Peter’s out of the water. He’s a proper sailor, takes it to France and back alone, now he’s selling it, don’t know why. And thence to the station, where due to a succession of unfortunate incidents, carefully enumerated over the PA every five minutes, we have to wait three quarters of an hour for a train. Which is not the end of the world. Ah well, summer. *Also, mediafolk don’t necessarily let the truth get in the way of a good scare story. As in, quite a few English trees, such as oak and beech, keep hold of their dead leaves until midwinter, unless a storm strips them. That’s not global warming, they’ve been doing it forever. *stopped for bobbins? Lancashire expression, meaning I can’t do any more until I get more parts sent down the line The Internet Wednesday, July 19th, 2006
  24. 24. July 19th Too darn hot. No rainwater left, topped up the pool with tapwater, for the first time “keying any transmitter is an invitation to instant paranoia. There springs into existence an antenna pattern, thousands of square kilometres full of enemies out in their own night encampments in the Zone,faceless,monitoring...” Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow, Ch 3 p 328 (Picador) Posted in Uncategorized | Edit | Comments Off Lovely Weather For Swifts Tuesday, July 18th, 2006 July 18th Hot and clear, heatwave for us tempered a little by the seabreeze One, two, three four… fivesixseveneight…damn.Onetonineteneleventwelve KEEP STILL! WHY CAn’T You??? thirteenfourteen, er, ziptotwenty, er… The highest count I’ve managed to reach is twenty, but they keep zipping around so much. Strangely (not) the slight of herring gulls spiralling on the updrafts is not at all so charming. Last week I was in the Jubilee library when a mottled, flatfoot young ‘un wandered into the cool foyer: it’s that time of year, they are nearly fledged. Tourists burst into cooing, and flurries of protective gestures. Locals, to protect the reputation of our city, restrained themselves from beating the brute to death like a roach… Time out, lunchbreak, to stare at the sky (sky-gazing yoga, my favourite summer occupation) and back to my currently non-bloggable activities. The next episode of Rainbow Bridge is going up on infinityplus, I’ll tell you when it’s there. Meanwhile, in the middle distance, there beckons an Aleutian schooner called The Spirit Of Eighty Nine; carrying a hopeful but ill-omened embassy to the planet codenamed Diyu. Seven Tales And A Fable Friday, July 7th, 2006 7th July cool, misty conditions persisting but feels as if it will burn off
  25. 25. Rare opportunity, massively undervalued stock, immediately I thought of you… Steve Pasechnik’s just sent me a shipment of Seven Tales And A Fable, (two world fantasy awards 1996 remember) I’ve put some on sale, likewise some signed copies of the Midnight Lamp paperback. They’ll be up there until 1st August. Of course you can also apply to me direct, in which case I’ll deliver internationally. I’ll accept dollar checks, euros, BPS, sorry no credit cards. Last night, the leaver’s concert at BHASVIC, & the last time I’ll be in that panelled hall, with the rather fine inspiring C20 murals of war and work (Armada fails, Parliamentarians meet Sussex gunfounders, Battle of Britain…) And the gilded lists of the dead. Gabriel and James played four-hand ragtime, Gabriel played his scherzo, the Tamla Motown tribute singer had a proper belter of a voice. Today he’s off to Montreux. There, he’s gone, and in a sense he’s never coming back. With the beanflowers boon And the blackbirds tune And May, and June Squirrel face-off, Russian offensive Thursday, July 6th, 2006 6th July Cool, sea wrack still hanging on at mid-morning Hot sun, steady rain (the good sort of rain, none of your useless runoff downpours) and now the mist again. A squirrel climbed the trellis, watched by Cosmic, next- door’s rather strange cat, popped through and suddenly noticed me, quietly leaning on the wooden rail surveying the rambling poppies and the swelling plums, inches from his cocky little face. Augh, some crappy hulking wildlife between me and the catfood… Indignant exclamation, squirrel takes himself off crossly down the steps. Cosmic offers no threat: he’s been bitten by a squirrel before now, and nor does any human. I could have the squirrels eating out of my hand, I know. I think they eat enough already. Russians attack blogs! It seems there’s a lot of very dedicated spammers over there among the feds, actually keying in user registrations. So now it’s going to be even harder for decent folk to comment on this blog, and no harm to me as I’m not bothered about being interactive, but a real pain to real bloggers. What if I emailed them, saying Look, idiots, I have comment moderation, who the hell doesn’t? You are NEVER going to get anywhere with this? But what would I know? Maybe the internet is swimming with happy bloggers who do not mind being used as a link platform, or even think its a compliment. There are, legend has it, people who welcome cold calls… Laura Thomas writes apologising for not announcing “Imagining Albion”, the radio show. Don’t worry Laura. I do not like the sound of my own voice, an’ I don’t remember what I said in the interview. I wish your prog well, but what I did was Radio 4 property, to do with as you people willed… Sophie Masson writes that she’s coming over from Oz in October to promote her new kiddies fantasy (the Thomas
  26. 26. Trew series), and she’s just finished her first graphic novel, a childhood dream fulfilled. Must get more details of that. Peter Wong asks if Bryan Talbot is ever going to do a Bold As Love graphic novel (don’t think so!), Nick Breeze Wood writes from West Wales, offering Shamanic greetings; Keef says he’ll do an extract and Jeff Vandermeer invites me to walk the plank. Yes, I’ve been announcing my web handicraft, I’ll finish the rounds today. It’s like Christmas cards, a chance to say hi And here’s the next Rainbow Bridge episode. Don’t know what gaspipes are, exactly, in this context? That’s because you are too young. Think of what rifle barrels might resemble. I know it sounds strange, but gun runners used to have to lie about it, see. The previous episodes are still available by the way, links scattered artistically through this blog. A proper free download will be available when I get round to it. The next installment might appear on infinity plus, but I’ll link it… and that’s probably going to be RB signed off for the summer, we’ll see. Cat fight Monday, June 26th, 2006 26th June Cool, heavy cloud I don’t think it’s going to rain. It looks to me like one of those sullen, dry, grey skies. In the early morning, Ginger comes and sneaks under my hand by the pool (which I topped up yesterday, dutifully using a bucket, from the rainwater butt). She’s after the floating fishfood pellets (you’d better not DARE touch my fish, Ginger), which she scoops out with a paw, having failed to scarf them up with mouth alone. Cat version of cheating at bobbing for apples… There’s a large quantity of ticked, mousey and chocolate coloured cat hair in a trail up the garden, I suddenly notice. It has the fluffy Tonkinese undercoat, has to be Ginger’s. I wonder what happened. I think Lyra must have beaten her up. No blood, which is fortunate: to match this amount of flown fur, Ginge would be needing a transfusion. But it’s probably like babysick, looks more than it is. Favourable comment on Bold As Love from the USA (thank you kindly, sir) leads me to investigate the availability over there. My goodness, how expensive my book is! A thing of beauty, but how’s that going to look, when punters compare the “secondhand” prices for the UK paperback on amazon used & new? I wonder if I can do anything about this… But it would be immoral, I know, to interfere with that invisible hand. No need to worry, the public will always, instinctively turn their backs on unfair practice. Hallelujah. Reading: The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold. I liked this a lot, a real lot to start with. It’s not dark or spiky enough for David Lynch or Judy Blume (cited on back cover), reminded me more of Sam Mendes’ American Beauty: same suburbia-grows-its- ownbrand-spirituality thing. But it’s a book of one idea, and the last conceit, which involves dead girl temporarily borrowing body of lesbian friend, struck me as a bit
  27. 27. sickly. Gravity’s Rainbow, over-ripe as ever, much better in large chunks; and Chateaubriand. I’m in no hurry to finish the last volume of his memoirs; this has been a long friendship. He’s in Carlsbad now, 1833, trying and failing to get her family to recognise the poor Duchesse de Berry’s clandestine marriage to an Italian prince (They couldn’t make it up #n: how very much like an episode in the Count of Monte Cristo!) Must reread Attala. Also Sheri Tepper, for an essay Mark may commission. Interesting retrospective. I really like The Enigma Score, which I never heard of before. The latest The Companions, is typical entertaining late-Tepper, but caveat, you may need to really like dogs. Watching: Finished the first series of “LOST” last night, which we’d missed, fearing it was stupid. We love it, even Peter loves it. It’s a Mystery Play for our times. What a great invention tv on demand is. Will Gabriel & I ever finish watching Desperate Housewives 2 ? Only for completism. The baby-farming is plain nasty, Susan just gets more and more annoying, etc. A one-series success. And the football, perforce. What’s wrong with the English? They don’t even get into any good punch-ups,tho’ that Russian ref was to blame in the fun fest last night. It’s always the teacher’s fault. Kicking a ball in the right direction is not enough. There can be fire, spirit poetry. There’s Joe Cole, there’s little flurries of life, but basically the English are leaden. Amnesty International has achieved its million faces, but the hate mail the UN is getting from the US gun lobby is, I fear, a more telling prediction for the treaty to control illegal small arms trade… Little rescued Parade roses are covered in blood red blossom, my one success. Vegetable patch is dead as a duck, Peter’s refurbished room is looking very elegant indeed & here’s the latest episode of Rainbow Bridge: the dark foetid rivers beckon, it’s Coppola time. Publication Night Monday, June 19th, 2006 June 19th The weather remains changeable, yesterday warm (23-25C) and gently humid, today a sea wrack and a chill, restless breeze. Just drove Gabriel to his Maths FP1 paper, as his bike is dead until we can find the pump adapter. We went walking, over in the west, where the great estates are, the Downs are still thickly wooded, and beautiful horses graze in velvet fields. Stubbs group of polo-pony mares and foals, chestnut and bay; spreading meres in damp woods, yellow waterlilies putting up periscopes of flower buds, scolding wrens, ragged robins, two kinds of woodpecker. Dog rose tumbling in the branches of a massive oak, violet flowering rhododendron thickets, pine trees on the heath… OOh! Look Look A pine marten has leapt from a log! No, Gwyneth, that was a squirrel. Drat, he’s right. This is the perfection of English summer, and the rain, the water in the air, is the secret of it. They say this April and May was the sweetest spring for years, I missed it.
  28. 28. Anyway, the Rainbow Bridge Build is up, as of about 10.30pm last night. There are a couple of hitches (which I’ve just spotted) but it’s finished. Now to choose a new domain name. What shall it be? There are three ways you can go, assuming you’re not constrained by business purposes to look for a Google- ranking type word for “Paper Company In Slough” that hasn’t been taken yet. You can make something up, (like, er, gorbrostithat); you can choose a quirky phrase or expression from the public domain, (like, er, bodhisattva) that means something to you. Or you can use something uniquely personal; if you have one of those. I don’t like getting personal, and I have a very common name. I favour the second route, but it’s more difficult now. When I was starting out I had no company, and indeed I “bought” a whole rack of boldaslove names, the rest of which I allowed to lapse once we’d picked on Silly of me, it didn’t cross my mind they might be worth money… Nowadays it’s rather unlikely that you’ll think of a stylish, interesting common property pd title that hasn’t already appealed to plenty of other people. So then you have to decide whether you like the rest of the cadre… Hm. Needs thought, not to mention idle surfing. The Tale of Genji finished, one more time. Gravity’s Rainbow returns to my bedside. For years I’ve been saying that all modern sf ideas, certainly all my ideas, come from this book, and for years I’ve been wondering, is that really true? At all? (it’s a hazard: once I’ve expressed an opinion or made a statement, I immediately start thinking of that statement as fiction). But here I am again (last time I read it was 1999-2000), having waded through the bananas and the first episode of sh*t, have already groaned at the versicals and the lubricous child-sex, I’m coming to the ideas that leap out at me, startled recognition, oh yes, I do know you. Yes, this meant so much to me, and it still does. Imipolex, Mba Kayere, Oneirine… (tho’ in fact the Pynchon derived dream drug is in White Queen, not Bold As Love) Ochiba? Akikonomu? Lukundoo, what about Lukundoo? Surprisingly, there’s nobody using Lukundoo for anything, far as I can see the only hits are to the E.L.White story itself. Nah, I’m not really a horror writer, and I’m not really a Pynchon or a Genji buff either. It would be misrepresentation. Getting there Thursday, June 15th, 2006 June 15th. Humid, cloudy and warm Aha, so that’s what all this annoying “Blocked content” nonsense is about, on the other browser. Microsoft is fighting a patent battle with some chancers who’ve decided to claim they invented embedded content. And why not, they’ll snag billions of dollars. They also stand to destroy the browser concept and maybe the world wide
  29. 29. web (US), but that’s the profit principle for you. What’s the quote about the engineer hoist with his own petard? The Rainbow Bridge serial has moved, current episode is on the boldaslove site, here But it’s going back to my homepage, reason being, publishing there is a keystroke, whereas getting onto is very secure and cunning. Have eaten giant cookie (sugar content bad for teeth, good for dental injections); am about to get the root canal punished. The freedom of the rose Tuesday, June 13th, 2006 June 13th Heavy rain in the early hours, hot and clear day beginning Spent HOURS last night trying to source a rose tree. Scouring fairytale books, nursery catalogues, old photo albums. The arch of crimson rambler I snapped in Washington DC, just around this time five years ago, looks good but WON’T take shape in photoshop, it’s just intrinsically wrong for the cameo appearence I have planned… I’ll use the dogrose bush in Flora Britannica, two birds with one stone, the book deserves a ref anyway. The rain is good, love the rain, but we go out of the back door in the morning, and the carnage is awful, awful. Can’t look. Now if only snails and slugs were edible, so we could pick them like blackberries. That would be a useful gene- mod. Either that, or why can’t I breed hedgehogs? I would make a good hedgehog breeder. Rainbow Bridge Site Up Monday, June 12th, 2006 June 12th grey morning quickly clearing, very warm I spent most of yesterday in the garden, lying on Peter’s Greek linen throw, reading Furet’s “Revolutionary France”; pulling out sheaves of grey and dusty exhausted forgetmenots, killing snails; watering painstakingly, plant by plant, the seedlings that yet survive from my broadcast annuals. Bemoaning the state of my potatoes and beans, all gnawed to bits. Listening to the constant cheery racket of a gang of sparrows. They probably drive the other, more reticent, garden birds nuts. Go back to the pavements where you belong, street-urchins! Later, at night, I’m wandering through the dark house, which seems all echoey and cavernous just because one room is stripped. Gabriel’s in the basement muttering about energy packets, photons, electron shells. Peter’s in the empty cave, searching
  30. 30. for his latest version of “sluice gate”, misplaced in the flash files. The yellow full moon rises, looking very beautiful. I’m supposed to rest but can’t settle. Reading about Ann Coulter (spread for paint drips) makes me think, liberating women is a mug’s game. It’s like sending aid to Africa. The cause is just, the need is great, but practically everything you struggled to give to the poor and brave goes straight into the pockets of the ruthless gangsters who have risen, inevitably, to the top rungs of the deprived world… But anyway, last night, last thing, the Rainbow Bridge site went up, bugs and all. The usual link will take you to the rough cut front end, this one leads to the chapter pages. It’ll all be finished, fixed, polished as far as we are able, hopefully during this week. One More Indestructible Rose Sunday, June 4th, 2006 Pentecost, 4th June Weather yesterday, beautiful. Fine haul of big juicy field mushrooms from the hill above Southease Bridge. We sat for a while to watch the Ouse, discussing how to capture that effect of light, the incoming tide. Blue layer over brown, bars of light, and a little pied wagtail chick came out from a nest concealed in the swing bridge timbers to be fed. It stayed out there when the parent flew off, cheeping, scurrying about perilously above the water, and madly wagging its little rump as if it already had a grown up tail. Don’t you dare fall in, little bird, or I know I’m going to have to go in after you… White egrets, herons, innumerable swans. Didn’t notice the weather today, too busy sanding, scrubbing, painting Peter’s room, white like before. And what on earth do they do to those Hay Festival roses? I think I probably wouldn’t like to know, but you have to respect a flower that can take such punishment…my journey home in tatters after one cancelled train, up stairs, over bridges, me in my vintage Laura Ashley and sheer tights (!), ridiculously burdened, books, bags, free case of cava in an improvised sarong sling; the rose between my teeth. On the slow train from Worcester to Oxford I crouched among my bundles, imagining scenarios for this dissolute hooray I was impersonating…chicklit! I bet I could do chicklit!, and the queen of English landscapes drifted gently by, buttercups and sorrel in the meadows, all the may in abundant flower, clotted shoals of purest white. And that rose is sitting up and taking notice now, amazing. Women in Science: “Life” at the Book Fest Wednesday, May 31st, 2006 31st May, cool and sunny
  31. 31. To Hay on Wye today, for the panel on Women In Science tomorrow (4pm 1st June, Review Studio). Just realised the prep I’ve done has been on the “women in science” aspect, augh, sod’s law, I’ll get asked something about the book & I’ll have forgotten the important thing that happened in chapter seven, or mislaid a character’s name… Must check it over on the train. haha, our invitation to the great Kilworth bbq! Bollywood, what a good idea, sf grandees formation dancing in gold dhotis, can’t wait. Dear Reader, Tuesday, May 30th, 2006 30th May cool, with glimpses of warm sun, doomy dark clouds Eight holly berries have set No pears at all Plums beyond counting Ginger has come to fetch me twice this afternoon, she leads me around Peter’s room, meowing, distressed at all the puzzling changes in her life, grand piano preparations and the temporary turmoil left by a Bank Holiday semi-outdoor bbq. Two floors down, Gabriel plays Debussy. Gabriel! Knock that off a minute and move the furniture back in place, Ginger’s having a nervous breakdown. And thousands of miles away Yogya is in tatters, the plain of Prambanan littered with carved fallen stone again. It’s more than twenty years since I was there last, Mama and her warung must have been long, long gone; and the ice cream parlour beyond the railway tracks, and the silversmiths who dreamed of coming to Brighton, and the smiling staff of the Hotel Indonesia, and the kind man who bought us banana pancakes one night, which we ate on a doorstep in the paraffin-lamp dark. It still felt connected, like this was an earthquake hurting me & mine. But this is irrational, even rather creepy. Not my earthquake. Earthquake belong to people crying, people sleeping under cardboard, people dead. Swift reply from Gardner and Jonathan approving Tiamaat; that’s good. Saw Brick last Thursday: Gabriel thought it was fantastic. P& I thought it was good, very true to the conventions, we like to see the young people respecting tradition (though a little voice deep inside kept whispering, Harry Potter and the S**g Brick of Doom). Dear Reader, (or even readers, but I don’t count on it) you are probably wondering by now why the Rainbow Bridge extracts aren’t going up on the BoldAsLove site. This is because we have ftp problems. They will be solved, however, before I’ve fought my scrapbook items into order. Peter’s sorted out my position visavis Dreamweaver, but the mess remains. Anyway, here’s the latest clip: Christmas Eve Google sent me here. . . Friday, May 26th, 2006
  32. 32. May 26th, rain, cool and misty Rainbow Bridge Site bites back. Google sent me here when I tabbed “God must be a Muscovite”, looking for serendipitous references for the Chopin feature, I haven’t an idea why. Oddblogb’god I’m flailing at random, I am in such a knot with Dreamweaver, it’s just overloaded and refusing to play, I’m not going to get anything done, my room is floored with papers, open books, memorabilia waiting to be scanned, proofs, diagrams, all going nowhere. However, my gumboil is much better. Posted in Uncategorized | Edit | No Comments » When Good Root Canals Go Bad Wednesday, May 24th, 2006 May 24th Breezy, sun between clouds, still cold. They tell me the Ice Saints effect is caused by something called the North Atlantic Index, part of that thermohaline circulation you have heard about. Kind of an English Bank Holiday El Nino sort of thing. It’s rather strong this year. I started whining about my gumboil the night we went to see The Last Ballade. I’ve been hoping it would go away. Looks like a mouth ulcer, left upper premolars, if you’re interested. But I know it isn’t, it’s that root canal done by previous dentist (on whom be peace), which didn’t quite work. Last time it flared up Mr Manoochehiriad almost got me to agree to let him see to it. Can you save the tooth? I whimpered, trembling. There’s a fifty fifty chance, he said. Visions of shell exploding under the drill, him digging out shards from bloody pit. . . Couldn’t stand the heckling from Gabriel and Peter anymore, got myself an appointment on 5th June. I’ll feed myself on ibuprofen. Maybe it’ll go away. A levels start today. GOOD LUCK in your exams Gabriel! & all the rest of you kids, too. I see the little fuss about the Tiptree longlist has lead to some discussion of that award. I’m with Jeff Vandermeer, it’s become an embarrassment. Trouble is, the number of c.21 sf folk, including the Wiscon hordes, interested the tough thinking of sexual politics is really tiny. Their eyes glaze over. (My eyes glaze over too, different reason) Whereas, on the other hand kinky sex! Inner Fandom and kinky sex, need I say more? Hey, hey, looking for some sleeze? Try the Tip! It’s a shame. But I don’t see any way around the problem, really. Free speech & all that. Winter Wind Sunday, May 21st, 2006
  33. 33. May 21st Cold and stormy Here’s the latest extract from Rainbow Bridge. Ax meets the Chinese Dismantling Peter’s room. A trip to good old B&Q, Peter’s favourite store. Why no grey gloss? Why is grey gloss a special rare choice you have to ask the computer to invent for you? Surely it used to be a normal colour. Buy a stepladder, (to replace the rotty old wooden one, finally chopped up for kindling after near-disaster incident) empty the bookcases, sort through the contents of the ugly filing cabinet which is definitely on its way to the YMCA. Strange choice of things to keep, things to discard. Old photographs, crumpled and lost for twenty years. A tiny fake-fur covered address book, in which one eight year old boy has written another eight year old boy’s address, and no more. A pack of playing cards, worn and greasy from hours of playing gin rummy at West African bus stations. A slit-eyed mask made of mud and set with cowries and german coins… I wonder why c.21 scientists reason that the Neanderthals “believed in an after life” because they buried the touching little treasures of a life with the dead; like putting a favourite soft toy in the bed with the sleeping child? They aren’t using their common sense. Our rituals were never imposed from above by some priestly caste, religion was not invented by some clever- clogs to serve the needs of a more complex society. These things are the needs of society, these behaviours rise from within, natural as sleeping, eating, seeking shelter. I’ll bet sixth order intentionality, reflective consciousness itself, came later, and all the cloud-capped towers of metaphysics followed. You don’t have to be conscious to suffer remorse, or regret, or to mourn. This week in May has been typically, not reliably but typically, cold and stormy since 1752 (since we last updated our calendar here ie). I wonder what does that tell us? (Nothing about relative temperature, mind, only weather systems). Even stranger if “the ice saints” date back to mediaeval times, but I don’t know about that. The Football* Wednesday, May 17th, 2006 May 17th Cold and Mist I might have to move my citrus tree back to the bathroom, or it will die of gloom in the basement, antechamber of its summer home outdoors. But bring on the rain, bring on the rain. The house is in flux, Peter’s room all over the place, on its way to becoming the grand piano practice room. Ginger wanders, refinding old toys. The Gardner Dozois story, on revision, comes apart in my hands. I have to relate these people to something, or I can’t think. Damn it, I’m going to have to work out a time line, a Silmarillion, how absurd.
  34. 34. In a comfortless Maytime we pin our hopes on seven pm, get the beers in, pull the bunker blankets around us. Where is our chronicler?, the one who knew how we live. Mike Skinner where are you now? *Ah well. It would have been more fun if Barca had lost, but there you go, it’s the ritual that counts. As long as we can win something, sometimes, please. Not even often, not asking for the moon, but now and then. . . Please? Slight Return Monday, May 15th, 2006 15th May, cold and grey The serial of Rainbow Bridge continues: slight return The prologue and catch-up can be found on this blog, March 12th, March 23rd, April 7th Apologies: my spam filter became too clogged, comments will now require log in. To London last week, up at dawn to get the bus: to lobby parliament over the International Arms Trade Treaty… The arms dealing industry is out of control, small arms (a generous category) trade in particular, and it isn’t just arming six year old boys in Central Africa, the guns END UP HERE. On our streets, in our cities. If you want to be counted as feeling this is a bad idea, sign up here. And passed through the security baffles and the portakabin search facility at St Stephen’s entrance for the first time. How easily we get used to these downward tumbles. Once I was so privileged, now I’m poor and often insulted: we have joined the majority. Ah well, I can’t really remember being rich anyway. Joining Amnesty International for one of these actions is a little like visiting fairyland. We don’t mention the elephants in the room. (Eg, IRAQ. Eg, the whole thing is useless without China and Russia and the US, and how are you going to get China and Russia to sign up for an International Arms Control Treaty (that’s even sign, never mind enforce any regulations), if the USA won’t do it. Which of course they won’t. Never, nohow). .. But you have to like the good people who keep trying, even if the gold they give you turns to dry leaves in your pocket by the time you get home. Then it was our Brighton Festival weekend, five events in three days (not forgetting the Brighton and Hove Big Band busking outside the Haha! Bar. Dashing young keyboard player rather indignant that we sat and had a beer on the terasse, instead of standing up front…) I think the best was the Chopin, The Last Ballade, Michael Lunts one man show in the Buddhist Centre garret. We take our hats off to someone who can play Chopin and talk (no, more than talk, can act), at the same time. Great music, very sad story, even if you know the other side… But I don’t know, the Budapest Symphony Orchestra were cracking, the Bartok,(Miraculous Mandarin) worth the price of admission alone. Groupe F, “The Lightplayers” in Preston Park, was not as majestic as the free show they did two years ago, but it was pretty amazing. We were right up front, a company sparsely scattered on picnic rugs when darkness fell.
  35. 35. Absorbed by the sheer spectacle (This is the stuff Leonardo da Vinci really cared about, you know), we didn’t notice what was going on around us. At length, when it was time to go, good grief what a SEA of people. On and on, forever, in the dark, quietly moving, under the trees, over the lawns. Yesterday we went into King Death’s Garden, and snipped a spray of male holly flowers. A touch of in vivo fertilisation, dusting pollen grains onto the female flowers on Siang’s little tree, blunt green matchhead ovaries. Maybe we’ll get berries. Lying awake, I listen to birdsong in the early morning. The thrush north of the Crescent isn’t singing this year, but at 4.30 on Friday, is that by any chance a nightingale? Easter Sunday Monday, April 17th, 2006 Sunday 16th April, low cloud, all the spring flowers Death is heartwood the dense centre of the soul where no laughing blood leaps and no nerves thrill The people we love are joined to it one by one And fill its silence with joy remembered And help us to stand tall And make us strong There’ll be no blogging for a while, I’m too sad. Doria, Paul, I’ll email you Posted in Uncategorized | Edit | Comments Off Paris Babylon Friday, April 7th, 2006 April 7th, grey and mild Further to my last: just about this time of year in 1871, or a little earlier, the French government forces surrendered. The Franco-Prussian War had been an utter disaster, and it served the French right. Everyone in Europe had told them they would get pasted, everyone had told them, that Bismark feller is NOT kidding, Prussia is an armed camp and where’s your famous army right now? Dancing the cancan, eh? But they wouldn’t listen. So, anyway, defeat came and the Parisians were incensed.
  36. 36. They’d just endured a 200 days siege, and for what? For nothing? Over their dead bodies. They refused to surrender, the Reds took over, and this became the Paris Commune. Rimbaud, aged sixteen, ran away from home to join them (sort of, the dates don’t really fit). Patti Smith wrote a song about it. And eventually (from the sublime to the ridiculous, you may say) I wrote about Crisis Europe and a desperate attempt to build Utopia in the middle of a nation-sized car crash, called “Bold As Love” Everyone at the time thought they were insane and disgusting and atavistic, a bunch of mediaeval insurgents, eating cats and inventing mad concepts like “from each according to their capacities, to each according to their needs”*. Except Matthew Arnold, who said “the Paris convulsion is an explosion of that fixed resolve of the working class to count for something and live, which is destined to make itself felt in the coming time…” In their own eyes they were a verloren hoop, as the Dutch say, a lost troop, a hat on a stick for International Socialism. Nobody came to their aid. Karl Marx fumed about the mistakes they were making (their proud financial probity in dealing with the great banker Lafitte, makes heartbreaking reading). But he stayed in London. . . In short, the Commune was a disaster. Bismark and Prussia had a field day with the issue, and in the end the French government forces came in and slaughtered them all. Men women and children, thousands and thousands of their own citizens. And for no reason. The battle was won, the resistance was over. Makes you think, doesn’t it, looking at Paris now. Makes you think. Makes you think twice about taking up verloren hoop politics. And then maybe do it all the same. Anyway, where was I. My week: 13:Tzameti, excellent film. The Three Burials of whatsisname, on the other hand, I found rather crass. Finished Big Cat, went to a great concert, London Philharmonic at the Dome. And here’s Ashdown continued: the third episode of Rainbow Bridge. Warning, it’s long, because I haven’t time to make it shorter. reflections on the Commune from: Paris Babylon, Rupert Christansen. *I do think this is nuts, by the way. Jennifer Aniston has needs. Big Brother celebrities have needs, where do we draw the line? Hedonism is a difficult creed. Ovingdean Tea Ceremony Wednesday, April 5th, 2006 2nd April April weather, blue sky, bright wind, transparent indigo cloud A Sunday walk: up to the Racecourse, across the green turf, down through the suburban fields, pony stables, to Ovingdean, where we couldn’t get into eleventh century St Wulfstans, so sat on a bench in the pretty (kept that way by ferocious churchwarden notices) graveyard like bookends, old friends. Watched a pair of kestrels playing in the filigree of bare branches, swelling buds subtly changing the
  37. 37. profile against the sky, beech and lime. Discussed what we’re going to do about identity cards. 1. Renew passports before the cutoff date, obviously 2. Resist, of course. But how far will we go? Get arrested, go to jail, resign ourselves to losing all social services? No doctor, no vote etc? We don’t know. But long-haul travel is over (finally killed for us by aviation fuel issue), dance culture is over, we’re too old for clubbing. Got to do something with our time. Maybe verloren hoop politics is the next adventure. It won’t happen, says Peter. It’ll be like Poll Tax, it just won’t work. Ah, but Poll Tax was a long time ago, so much has changed since then, so many tipping points passed. Back from Rottingdean by the undercliff walk, wonderful seas. At the point break, the waves hit the undercurve of the new seawall and race along it, shooting up in white, brilliant, travelling fountains, showering thrilled strollers with glitter and dazzle. Salt on our faces, tea and cake at the Ovingdean kiosk, what a great institution. I have hyacinths by my bed now, fugitive scent, many-coloured stars, shell pink, pale yellow, white, intense rose; intense turquoise blue. • Women in Iraq Friday, March 31st, 2006 31st March, early Are worse off than they were under Saddam, interpress report gives chapter and verse. Did you doubt it? Such a feeling of impotence these days,on every issue, impotence. PMQT Thursday, March 30th, 2006 March 30th rain in the night, mild gloomy morning. there’s no murder on the dancefloor this year so far. Frog-slapping must be passe.
  38. 38. I work at my jigsaw, (Partie de Tennis a Vechiville, lovely women, beautiful falls of hair, tiny waists, my God it must have been mortifying if one of those shackled, hobbled girls ever beat a young man) while the House bays and yammers behind me. Prescott says something laborious about the Tories recycling their leaders, they’re FOF, kicking legs in air (that’s what it sounds like, I didn’t look round). The schoolmaster’s voice cries “Order! Order! This roaring must stop!”. I think of Francois Chateaubriand’s long sonorous, thrilling periods. Fake and lies of course, at that famous Tribune, politics is politics. But so rich in music, rich in CONTENT. If an actual orator should get up in Westminster today, would they notice? Would they appreciate? Nah. They might sulk a bit, and demand their chicken nuggets back. The media lads, afterwards, spoke solemnly of Prescott’s personal-best performance. His triumphs of off-the-cuff wit. Augh. But it was the same in that green room a hundred years ago, two hundred years ago, is that reassuring? And I see the Russian Feds are thinking of invading Georgia, how Great Game of them. I think I’m in a backwards- flying time machine here. The Visitor put to bed. The Voyage Out put to bed. Correct a ref on the Cho paper on gwynethann (a gynoid explains herself) that’s been annoying me since I noticed it. It was not James Blish who wrote “The Quest For Saint Aquin”. It just seems as if he should have. It was Anthony Boucher. Work on “Big Cat”, can’t get started. I always fantasise I’ll write short stories, freely and easily, between books. It never works. Gabriel’s iPod is lost. Drat, now we realise it is dumb to buy cheap household insurance with a youth around… Gabriel’s iPod is NOT lost! It’s been walking around with Louie, or maybe Frank, or perhaps Jake. I’ll wait until I see it to rejoice. Posted in Uncategorized | Edit | No Comments » So, Maybe it’s goodbye Wednesday, March 29th, 2006 Weds 28th March, grey skies Mild weather continues So maybe it’s goodbye Black Holes (I’m catching up on my pop-science news again). If their evaporation from the astrophysics bestiary is confirmed, I won’t miss them… Well, all right, I’ll miss them a bit. They were interesting to know when they first made their bow, very useful characters: from the Interstellar Highway Hazard to Romantic Appalling Death By Event Horizon, to Tiny Black Holes Eat Us From The Inside, through the fine metaphysical byways of We Are All Living Inside A Black Hole And We Never Knew It. I liked them, but it all started to seem old. They’d begun to have that glassy eyed look of folk at a social gathering, who have forgotten their way out of a sentence in small talk. Also, I fretted pointlessly over the way the general public, and sf readers (and writers too, sad to say) lost sight of the fact that the beasts were still imaginary… Doesn’t matter how ingeniously the wizards have established exactly how such a creature can fly, or how it does that fire-breathing trick. A dragon is a dragon, is a dragon. Nah, who can tell, maybe Black Holes still have legs.The new story is shaky. I speak as one with a purely aesthetic, business interest, not as one who can make head nor
  39. 39. tail of Dark Energy, but I’ve read a lot of these articles & I can see a touch of sonic fusion in this. Maybe more important, it doesn’t have that fat, satisfying feel. If anyone in the Roundhill/Ditchling Road area of Brighton, UK, reads this and would like some frogspawn please, please get in touch. We deliver! Posted in Uncategorized | Edit | No Comments » Audio link and Comments policy… Saturday, March 25th, 2006 25th March It’s raining! A soft, persistent rain, and the temperature has risen and the wind has dropped. Must be Spring. I’d planned to dig the slough today (temporary shelter for frogspawn), and maybe I’ll do it anyway. Dig myself a hole in the rain, that sounds like fun. And many thanks to Yvonne Hewett, who sent me the URL for the Scott Fitzgerald reading “On Beauty” audio link. Someone asked about my comments policy. Well, shorn of the poetic musings (see the first entry in MT2004 “Wearing Brocades in the Dark”) I’m not really a blogger, this is just a diary in an unlocked drawer, replacing my rather haphazard news column on gwynethann. In MT spam filters are cumbersome but blocking all comments wholesale is a keystroke, so that’s what I did. It’s the other way round in WP so I’m on a moderator plug-in, this could change if the spam tide rises… Posted in Uncategorized | Edit | Comments Off On Beauty (you have to try this) Thursday, March 23rd, 2006 23rd March Bright sun, blue sky, chill and dry. The little daffodils are out on Siang’s grave at last. Another chill, dry Spring begins. Wish it would rain. You have to try this, I found it when I was doing my Masefield page (which took me all of ten minutes, oh okay maybe twenty, should I be doing something slicker that takes proper time and coding? Nah). It’s Scott Fitzgerald reading John Masefield’s elegaic “On Beauty” aloud. Tell the absolute truth, SFG reading Masefield on antique recording device sounds not much different from TSELiot reading Ash Wednesday (which we still have in our archives). But it is eerie, touching, chilling, strange. Beauty of fire, from the beauty of embers… Also, the second episode of Rainbow Bridge is now up, and here it is, coincidentally titled: One Rainy Wish