Just last Wednesday

This was one of my first few blog posts almost 6 years ago. I think Freddie is in all likelihood still riding the buses and boring people to death

Another Grumpy Commuter

Just last Wednesday I was sitting on the bus minding my own business when I got distracted by the conversation going on behind me. There was a man in his early thirties dribbling on to the young girl who was in the unfortunate position of sitting next to him,and being jammed up against the window by his bulk. She looked totally disinterested in his conversation and I think I heard her whisper ‘Beam me up Scotty’ at one point.

The man, I think his name was Frederick Feodor Fuckwit III, was talking about his new house and how good it was going to. It would, apparently, have 55 bedrooms, 45 bathrooms, 11 home theatres, lounges, kitchens, dining rooms, rumpus rooms, double garages. It was going to be really big. In fact his was likely to be bigger than anybody else’s! He was also going to fill it with furniture, including…

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A President’s Prayer

I thought I’d update this

Another Grumpy Commuter

A President’s Prayer

Our President, somehow elected,
Delusion be his game.
It seems that he won
And there’s work to be done
And blame to be deflected.
Support  him today in his legal challenges.
And forgive him his petulant tweets,

As we forgive those who make petulant
tweets in response.
And lead him not into innovation,
But deliver him from progress.
For he has the Staff,
With the power and the will
To speak bullshit
For ever and ever.
Amen.

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How to be a Writer (by JB)

I am a pretend writer. No, really, I am. I have completed two novels (short ones) which are either not quite good enough to be published, or are simply shit. Perhaps they just need some more work, or perhaps they need an incinerator. One day I’m sure that I’ll work out which is the correct path. I have long ago run dry on my blog The Dregs of History and none of my self-published satirical manuals have sold that well, if at all. Shit happens.

But (I know that stating a sentence with ‘but’ is frowned upon, but fuck it, this is my piece of writing so I’ll do what I want) I do want to get better, so I occasionally read a book about writing rather than piece of fiction. I am assuming they are not fiction too.

Of the books that I have read about writing, two stand out. The first one of these is On Writing by Stephen King. This is a wonderful insight into how he writes and the hurdles he has overcome to get where he is. It is a combination of autobiography and writer’s assistant. The second is a book I have just recently read – How to Be a Writer by John Birmingham. They are very different books.

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How to Be a Writer is both entertaining and enlightening, with many handy hints (I hope I never have to resort to his suggestion of writing an erotic letter to Eric Abetz as a way of combating writer’s block) and insights from other writers. I may even get the suggested dictation software. Looks good.

At its heart, this book is a written in short easily digestible chapters. There is no over-long explanations of things, no self-indulgent tangents that lack relevance, and no bullshit about your chances of success. There is, however, lots of humour, lots honest advice about the amount of effort required, and good solid advice about the joys of being a poet (I can speak from experience when I tell you that this chapter is spot on). It is an easy read, just as a novel should be. Not too much requirement for huge contemplation (at least not unless you really don’t know yourself that well and this book has caused a light-bulb moment) and no boring bits. Lots of published novelists could learn a lot from reading this book – it’s a lot of fun.

How to Be a Writer covers writing novels, columns, articles, and even has short section on what expect as a poet. It covers such areas as a writer’s special media presence, endorsement of other writers, some useful technology info, how not to get sued, and a whole bunch of other stuff. Most of all though, it got me a bit more enthused about going back to my novels and cutting the shit of them before putting them back together again. This has been useful and fun. They might even end up as novellas available as ebooks.

And hey, pretend writer of not, How to Be a Writer got me off my arse to write this blogpost after a long hiatus filled with posting half-baked songs instead of prose. Cheers JB. Much appreciated.

 

 

 

 

New music – In the City after Midnight

In the City After Midnight

This was something I came up with last week.

 

Twenty songs from the 80s that just don’t get enough airplay anymore

Okay, I posted this a few years ago and this is not a definitive list and is in no particular order, but honestly, some of these should be played more – a lot more.

1. Understanding Jane – The Icicle Works: What can I say about the Icicle Works – good melodies, good lyrics, never played on radio, at least not here. This is even a tiny bit grungy before grunge existed…excellent in all respects. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AXm12KFuEZM

2. Pink Sunshine – We’ve Got a Fuzzbox and We’re Gonna Use It: Fuzzbox, as they were known, were an indie band that went mainstream pop in the late 80s with singles like International Rescue, Self, and this one. Of course the sexy Victoria Perks’ perkiness helped too! This is pure unadulterated pop and it’s great Pink Sunshine

3. Badges, Posters, Stickers, & T-Shirts – Dire Straits: Something different for MK and his band. This is jazzy. It was the b-side of Private Investigations and is sadly little known and played even less, if at all.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=28-nADaCGqs

4. Everything Good Is Bad – Westworld: This band had a hit with Sonic Boom Boy, but their cover of this song was their best in my opinion. They ramped up the guitars and let rip. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ujsh1nmQGuo
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0QOnP7Ui2Io this is the video but it cuts out – still, I like it

5. Mad World – Tears for Fears: Okay, so this may get played a little, but it was TFFs first single and their best, although Shout came close. It is dark and brilliant and I love it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SFsHSHE-iJQ

6. Since Yesterday – Strawberry Switchblade: Lovely song from this Scottish duo. One hit wonders to the best of my knowledge with a distinctly 80’s electronic drum feel and plenty of synthesiser. What ever happened to them? Could easily be included in my Guilty Pleasures top 20 which is still under construction.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YI3u1lOoH8o

7. Lebanon – Human League: Easily their best song for me. A bit of political commentary and an anti-war message mixed in with a kick-ass bass intro, some great guitar work and the line – ‘and who will have won once the soldiers have gone.’ Who indeed?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QEsRYkRpySY

8. Major Tom (Coming Home) – Peter Schilling: A bit of Europop and what a bit it is. This is Peter Schilling’s homage to David Bowie’s Space Oddity and Ashes to Ashes singles. The soaring chorus really makes the song. Apparently the man is still performing around Europe – so good for him! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jt-R5hj_lWM

9. Oblivious – Aztec Camera: This band had a couple of hits, notably Somewhere in my Heart, but this one didn’t make it far in the charts. In my opinion, though, it is their best song. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2B2Sc2G_5ZA

10. Blind Vision – Blancmange: Blancmange had three hits with Living on the Ceiling and Don’t Tell Me being the best known, but my favourite is this one. They also did a great version of The Day Before You Came originally a song by ABBA fame (they even got Agnetha to appear in their video). Blind Vision is synth pop at its very best Blind Vision

11. Can I Play With Madness – Iron Maiden: The 80s are not complete without Iron Maiden. They hit the big time with Run to the Hills, but this was their first No.1. It is a masterpiece of heavy metal and not a bad video either – if just a little bit corny. But hey – this was the 80s. Can I Play With Madness

12. Imagination – Belouis Some: Another short-lived pop success who I believe may still be going. He had a hit with Some People (at least in the UK) but Imagination was far superior and has a great bass part in it. One of my favourite 80s songs.
Imagination

13. Today – Talk Talk: Dark and fantastic from the Hollis brothers. They flirted with success and gained a good following, but first burst onto the scene with Talk Talk, Such a Shame, and Today. Their biggest hit was It’s My Life, more recently covered by Gwen Stefani. Today

14. Animal – Def Leppard: Hair rock. Yeah, there were others, but the boys from Sheffield took over the world with the album Hysteria, which spawned this single. I loved it when I first heard it, and then went off it – but it’s back and should be played more.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ecFPU–vvf0

15. Mama – Genesis: A very dark song about a prostitute – the first single off Genesis IV and Phil Collins at his vocal best.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ccs2rt0oSzQ

16. Ship Building – Robert Wyatt: This haunting song by Elvis Costello during the Falklands War about the shipyards, building ships, and not coming back from war. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjUkjpJa6bY

17. Here Comes the Summer – The Undertones: Pure joy from these Belfast lads. Only 1:57 in length but full of energy and girls with long legs. One of my favourite – I even prefer it to Teenage Kicks Here Comes the Summer

18. Ace of Spades – Motorhead: Yes – Lemmy’s biggest hit. The man as fired from Hawkwind and can’t sing but who gives a shit? This rocks! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1iwC2QljLn4

19. A New England – Kirsty MacColl: A Billy Bragg song covered (with an added extra verse) to perfection by Kirsty MacColl. This was her biggest hit and never fails to energise me. Great voice too. A New England

20. I Can Hear Your Heartbeat – Chris Rea: Chris Rea has a good following and is now very bluesy, but in 1983 he released this pop classic. Do yourself a favour and have a listen. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yhCUCxet2a4

Over the Horizon

Comatose on a palm-fringed beach of my desert island,

cool currents of contentment swirl around my ankles,

the lazy sunshine of relaxation warms my skin,

boats full of refugees pass within shouting distance.

 

Every so often one comes ashore to offer rescue,

eyes searching in vain for my shipwrecked craft.

“To go where?” I ask

“To Paradise,” they say.

“I’m happy here.”

“But it’s just over the horizon,  we’re almost there.”

 

Watching them disappear over my horizon,

I can’t help wondering if they’ll ever reach theirs.

A Landscape

The Alborz Mountains behind Tehran – taken from a moving vehicle

IMG_9513

 

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