29 December 2011


~ Water ~

What with reading dad's Chinese poems, I'm reminded to be on the ball over this year's Chinese New Year ~ 23 Jan - 9 Feb

  • Do check out the page by my old alma mater, the Hong Kong Tourist Association (as it was called in those days; prolly completely different under Mother China)
  • 28 December 2011


    ~ Po Chü-i ~

    Too quick to post the earlier poems from Dad's collection!

    An hour or so later I came across another collection, more heavily annotated.

    The Cranes seems to have invited particular attention, although I cannot match a single word or annotation to any line of the translation.

    How interesting to have been able to ask my father what and where he was fiddling and have him peel back the different shades of meaning that he was straining for.

    The western wind has blown but a few days;
    Yet the first leaf already flies from the bough.
    On the drying paths I walk in my thin shoes;
    In the first cold I have donned my quilted coat.
    Through shallow ditches the floods are clearing away;
    Through sparse bamboos trickles a slanting light.
    In the early dusk, down an alley of green moss,
    The garden-boy is leading the cranes home.

    27 December 2011


    Suddenly colder but I've built a good fire and my mother is warm in her room.

    Tassia and Kosta brought me a bottle of Jack Daniel's. Some sips as I take down my father's books of poems.

    Poets various.

    Feelings on Watching the Moon ~ Bai Juyi

    The times are hard: a year of famine has emptied the fields,
    My brothers live abroad- scattered west and east.
    Now fields and gardens are scarcely seen after the fighting,
    Family members wander, scattered on the road.
    Attached to shadows, like geese ten thousand li apart,
    Or roots uplifted into September's autumn air.
    We look together at the bright moon, and then the tears should fall

    night snow

    I was surprised my quilt and pillow were cold,
    I see that now the window's bright again.
    Deep in the night, I know the snow is thick,
    I sometimes hear the sound as bamboo snaps.

    returning late

    The mountain road is hard to travel, the sun now slanting down,
    In a misty village, a crow lands on a frosted tree.
    I'll not arrive before night falls, but that should not concern me,
    Once I've drunk three warm cups, I'll feel as if at home.

    spring sleep

    The pillow's low, the quilt is warm, the body smooth and peaceful,
    Sun shines on the door of the room, the curtain not yet open.
    Still the youthful taste of spring remains in the air,
    Often it will come to you even in your sleep.

    sleeping on a night of autumn rain

    It's cold this night in autumn's third month,
    Peacefully within, a lone old man.
    He lies down late, the lamp already gone out,
    And beautifully sleeps amid the sound of rain.
    The ash inside the vessel still warm from the fire,
    Its fragrance increases the warmth of quilt and covers.
    When dawn comes, clear and cold, he does not rise,
    The red frosted leaves cover the steps

    26 December 2011


    just what i need to set me up for boxing day.

    you, too


    dot wordsworth does a downton anachonism number on PD James.

    Mum swears Dot is Chris Howse but i'm not now so sure.

    24 December 2011


    once again, the economist deliver.

    everyone catches it in the neck, every profession.

    long time since i read anything thru with such satisfaction.

    22 December 2011


    Just hearing 'Lightning' singing with such feeling - and cop that guitar! - makes the little dribble I'm moaning about feel like sunny days again.

    Anna's ploy: some friends of friends on Bainbridge Island were coming up from CA to check out property and we were thinking on how to discourage them.

    It was cats and dogs at the time.

    Anna - circa nine - chirped up,

    "Why dont I put on my bikini and Dad put on his Hawaii shirt and we meet them at the ferry and go like "Yayy! You brought the good weather!"
    and then as we drive to Kris and David we're like telling them all the fun things planned:

  • BBQ in the garden (mud glorious mud)

  • Games round the pond (ie the pothole in the drive)

  • Go to Sasquatch beach and look at Seattle thru the Puget Sound mist.

    How we laughed, the scamp.

    In the end they didnt come; preferred their cosy hotel room up on 6th and Columbus to the chilly deck of Washington State Ferries. Didnt sound like our kind of people any road.

    Whoa, that photo of Koutsi up there, feel a song coming on. Where dat woman wit' her kazoo? Need that cat sound.

    "Got me a lonesome bell to toll, use it to call my hungry cat
    Nnghh ... that lonesome shepherd bell, sound like heaven to a hungry cat,
    Maybe six of sister squirrel, half a doz' o' Mister Rat"

    Lord have mercy ... been to the nation, all around the territo' just for a decent cut of rat.

    This rain keep up, make my guitar a sampan ... float right down to Di' Ella's Delicatessany.

    Gorgeous submission by my favourite blues man.

    So obvious, from the first wail, why he likes it; the harp sounds like him and on first hearing it he must have dropped that thesis and rushed straight to the cellar to wail.

    I will get him in the end: we'll be at some blacktie do, donnish chatter, everyone behaving, 'Lycidas and his Languid Lutes' playing discreet Dowland.

    I'll have slipped the guv'nor a tenner to take one song and one only.

    And i'll start into this beauty and savour the sight of the penguin-suited prof twitching and groaning ("Maria, surely you packed my harmonicas? What, not even the D?")

    I'll eke it out, the audience entranced, Jimmy P disintegrating as phrase after phrase passes, crying out for punctuation.

    The prof turning left and centre:

    "But you dont understand, it really does need the ... oh, never mind.


  • 21 December 2011



    He changed us all.

    Bert's kinship with the guitar and his clear vision of where he was heading on the frets is now in our DNA, impossible to separate from what was before.

    Merry Christmas.

    20 December 2011


    ~ Landlord Whine ~

    My script to a T.

    Our hitherto trustworthy tenant in the cottage has done a bunk and left a few gaps.

    Also a whole lotta mess outside his bijou accom.

    Also a ton of good stuff and his precious car which his spurned girlfriend intends to sell. Apparently, when our lad set off for England - unannounced to all - he was passengering a little chickadee he told his lady he'd jettisoned full six months ago.

    As the gods would have it, I have a policier pal who adores maman and has let her know that if there's anything he can do ....

    I met him for coffee with his thuggo fuzz mates and explained all.

    Ma foi! But Christo, did I not remember him telling me he had a good friend who was looking for a rental and had commented on the cottage as most desirous? His beat is the marina precinct stretching to the mean streets of Dasia and his girlfriend worked at the hospital.

    Location location location.

    I told him I was just worried that chummy might come knocking at midnight and threaten a bit of bovver.

    "You have my number. Put it on speed dial. As soon as he comes, call me. Even if he is peaceful, call me. Must be safe."

    There was a little more banter among his cronies who stared stony-faced at me thru their Raybans, making it clear they werent interested in a single thing I was selling.

    POLICE PAL: "I dont tell my friend yet. He will want to help your friend make a good choice and not stay."

    The sort of buddies that make one want to sip on a fifth of bourbon, sit back and play some gentle guitar.

    BEST VIDS 2011

  • "Food". What was in it?"

    "Bacon, the maple kind."

  • Absolutely spot-on voice-over and the dog's expressions.

    And it looks as it was one take.

  • Sheen - tech dubbing and massaging at its best

    Ha! I'll dust that CorfuBluesMan's yuletide broom for him!

    [Thanks for e-greet from chilliest Dorset, by the way; might as well get that in and multi-task: blues to bread 'n' butter]

    My brother and I share a delight in campy white Brit blues from back before the real deals came along. Clapton tells the story of his salad days when a bloke up his street ordered all these Chess records from over yonder. Eric and his mates knocked on his door and he brought his latest LP to show these pimply pluckers ... and they just stood there and gazed, silent on a doorstep in Crouch End.

    Speaking of stoutism, my dad was a secret chap in the far east, all hush hush n all, and was dating my mum who was back in Oz. Being in luhve n all, his mind was a bit gaga n he sent her a message saying he felt like stout Cortez, hint hint at where he was but not likely for johnny to twig.

    Mum was like - well, mum-like cept she wasnt a mum yet - and she wanted to let dad know she wasnt a total thicko so she replied blurting proudly on his reference.

    Poh poh! If dad was to be believed, this blew the whole Pacific Theatre plans sky high, scramble scramble, might as well have sent the Japs map co-ordinates of every BAAG agent west of Kowloon. Always loved that story. Bit like 'Peccavi' and some rogue rajah replying in kind in fluent Latin ("Kennedy-sahib, I too was at Radley, Mr Knatchbull's class, year behind you.")

    Back to the clip, always fascinating to see those oldies of Keef when he had a face.

    Just kiddin', Massa Potts. Wouldnt do that to you.

    16 December 2011


    ~ Yellow fever vaccine disgrace ~

    Go now.

    Google 'Malcolm Brabant yellow fever' - and I'm ashamed to my roots not to have kept current with this hero journalist - then dash out and pick up today's 16 Dec Athens News, Thrasy Petropoulos's page 13 story of how this consummate news sleuth has, allegedly, had his life wrecked by Stamaril/Sanofi Pasteur vaccine

    [I blush to see the name Pasteur appear in the same line].

  • Read up for yourselves and, as I say, I'm ashamed I hadnt competently set my RSS's and all those feeders they offer you to catch this earlier.

    Google gawp and petition. Kick some major e-ass for all the ace reports you've benefited from thanks to this fearless journo of the old school. The real stuff.


  • Most respected ~ Daily Mail

  • I cannot read the references to Jesus. I cannot imagine the pain of his family and wife, Trine Villemann.

    This larger-than-life master of his trade.

    Malcolm and I spoke a few times on the phone and shared emails and I always looked forward to when our diaries fitted and we'd knock back a few beers on the San Luca terrace ... I mean, fuck it, what's going on?

  • Chris Hitchens gathered

  • Malcolm laid cruelly low.

    Le Bon Dieu up there, taking his eye off the ball. Not good enough. Losing the plot. Flubbing it.

    Ack ptui, room galore for serious improvement.

    Do it: add your voices.


    The very sad passing of a much-needed thorn in many eminently thornable sides.

    And that's the photo that conjures up the Hitch I remember from my booksy days when I brushed the garment hems of the Lords of the London Lit Universe: Amis, Fenton, McEwen, et al.

    I used to mewl and mow whenever Martin Amis breezed into my ken but to no effect. Then Alison Press came out with Bellow's Humboldt's Gift and we had him over to do that show by Melvyn Bragg (another of our authors; jobs for the boys) and that's when I found out that Amis was a huuge fan and was dead keen to interview him - prolly for the New Statesman.

    As it turned out, they must have met before because when I put it to Saul as a bit of a coup he wrinkled his nose and refused.

    But it came off - as did other big-beast interviews with authors under my hackery - and those were the times when everyone was terribly nice to me.

    Hitch was always civil to me and I'd send him my catalogues and speed along anything he fancied without any nonsense about where or when or even if he might give it ink. He invariably sent hand-written thanks on the smuttiest poastcard he could find. They were of such a high standard I suspect he bought them where and whenever he saw them and kept them ready in reserve.

    In memoriam ~ Vanity Fair

    14 December 2011


    Euhh, spoke out of turn. Dog house.

    Key won't fit the door, phone off the hook.

    The dulcet tones of John Lee will bring her round.

    Dr David Kelly CMG, DSc

    Among my circle I seem to be a lone indignatus over the shifty treatment of David Kelly's death.

  • I did at the time believe that there was a strong possibility that he had been helped on the way and the bizarre attitude over an inquest increased my suspicion.

  • On the other hand, none other than Tom Mangold poo-poohs this.

  • David Halpin has stepped in.

  • Halpin website

  • The Inquest site

  • Blog

  • One of my favorite blues whose words are so good that, despite my own fluting fauntleregal voice, I sneak up to the bedroom with the Ovation and sing it out over the Gouvia badlands.

  • Do listen to the reference to "been to the nation and round the territo'"

  • Likewise going to the big house and he dont even care ... he might get 4 or 5 years, Lord he might get the chair."

  • Going to the Nation ... round the territo' ~ lor' lumme, first time i heard that i started lopping words wherever i could. Soo cool.

    My wife snapped "What's all this 'Going to the supermar' ... pickin' up the laun'?"

    Fast as a striking scor', I snapped back, "And round the territo'."

    Wordpla', dudes!

  • 11 December 2011


    I'm probably the last person to have caught up with this, but i share

    05 December 2011


    - Charlie Brooker's 'Black Mirror' -

    lydia 'princess susanna' wilsonI read everything that clever Charles Brooker writes.

    Here he excels himself: not a word wrong, masterly delivery by a spot-on cast. Rory sublime as PM.

    Listen to his wife's delivery of part 1's closing line,

    "Can I have a word?"

  • Next Scenes, the mirror blackeneth.

  • Denouement.

  • Best actor ~ LYDIA WILSON.

    Everyone is top-notch but a huge bouquet to the talented Ms Wilson [pictured above in more relaxed demeanour] who plays the kidnapped Princess Susannah.

    Dude, that's what I call weeping ~ and catch her at the end as the happy bride.

  • lydia wilsonAn astonishing powerful performance.

    Nay, astonishing powerful production all round.

    The final minutes ... oh poh poh. Tense, thought-provoking.

  • More stuff about the series