Friday, 7 December 2012

Illustrated Ape...

... I have a poem in the new issue of the much-lauded Illustrated Ape magazine which came out yesterday. There was a little launch in Orbital Comics, with whiskey and some of the art on the walls. It's a great object, full of wit and ideas and brilliant drawings and I'm honoured to be a part of it. Thank you, Christian.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

An Interview With Robert Rubbish...

I recently conducted this interview with the artist Robert Rubbish whose new exhibition, To London with Love begins on Thursday at Material Gallery on Rivington St. London.

Robert was great to interview, funny, intelligent and effusive about art, music, books, politics. Since editing this interview I have had trouble spelling.


Hello, Robert.


Could you tell me first what it is you like about the aesthetic qualities of a postcard?
I like the size of postcards, the fact that they are so easily accessible. I like that they are cheap and easy to store, easy to handle, really. And I really love the fact that they are normally a reminder of some event or place. 

And how about the actual word "postcard", what does that mean to you?

Well the word conjures up a few images, I suppose... holidays, something you can post for sure, communication. All of these works are actual postcards, Cass Art postcards, so can be posted. It's also about the group aspect... that somebody can go to an art gallery and buy a postcard. Well, here they are buying the original artwork.
So the work and the representation of the work are one and the same here?
Yes, the original is affordable enough to take away. There's a greater connectivity with the work.

It seems that the space behind the art suddenly becomes important when the art is this size, how did you choose or use the spaces you've chosen for these exhibitions?

Well, the thing with the Bristol show was that I used to go into this underground comic shop and buy comics. The guy there knew I made art and asked if I wanted to do something and I thought a group show would have the most impact. So I guess practicality informs the whole thing, also with the work, we didn't need to get a van to transport a load of artworks. And in the room itself, we couldn't drill into the walls, so we hung the cards on the washing line. So again, there is the practical. You know, it is quick. Afterwards, you look and you see the shadows and the wall behind the cards... it's nice to see it with the pegs and string. They look like Christmas cards...

...sort of domestic? There is a play between the idea of high art and the small, homely idea of postcards, clothes line, pegs..
Yes, yes. Sometimes, with exhibitions... the chance factor comes into play. When you're hanging the work. Unless you're spending a lot of money and time working out the lighting, spacing, the image order... but this was in a little basement, three walls. It works the way we did it.

So how do you see the relationship between the practical and the conceptual with this work?
Well it's about accessibility. The whole idea is the practical. The people involved are friends, associates, the spaces are where we have relationships. The work is easy to buy, to take home, the cards are easy to make. I mean by that, it's easier for me to give the artists a stack of cards and tell them they can make what they want. There's no brief so they can just have ideas.
I like the idea that the work is affordable and want to encourage people who don't usually think about buying a piece of artwork to buy an artwork. I've been thinking about this a lot in the last few years... that people, myself included, don't think about buying art because it is out of our price range. So a show like this, most people can afford to buy a piece. Most people don't mind going out getting wasted and at the end of it having nothing to show for it. So why not come to this show, get wasted and leave with an artwork that you can enjoy for a longtime afterwards? Also it would be good to encourage people to get interested in artists, they might want to buy a bigger work from in the future and if they lived with the small bit might think that's a good idea. They learn to like the piece, "I want a bit more of that.”

There is a sense of democracy about the works. All the artists contributing have a space, a size of canvas that is uniform...

The idea of giving the artists the same postcards to work on gives the whole show a uniform, an order, even though a lot of the artists' work will be very different. I suppose it's about the overall look of the show when it is hung. It is also, again, about the practicality of how easy it is to pack the work up in a box and take to a show. It's easy to hang and artists can even post the cards to me so it's all very easy. 

Ok, I want to move on to the musical aspect of the launch night. How do you see music in the context of making your art?

Music is integral to the making of the artwork. Most people, if you go to their studio, or watch them work, they are listening to music. Classical, the radio, whatever it is. So when you work without a brief, especially, the music feeds into it. So, for example, Neal Fox has these things - saints, he calls them, and there's Miles Davis, Iggy Pop, whoever... and Hannah Bays has done something with Bowie, so the references are in there, direct, or more oblique. The Heretic Printmakers have done these one-off prints for the show. You go to their studio and they're blasting out the crazy music they listen to. Music's a massive part of what they do, (they've) collaborated with all these psych labels, Tim Burgess, Factory Floor. But everyone I know listens to music... is influenced by it.

The images are small individual pieces, but together they create something larger, and the collaborative whole has a power of it's own...
Yes, I like what you are saying there... from a distance the whole show hanging will look like a sea of abstract colours and marks, but then when viewed at a closer inspection you pick out the details of individual works. So yes, it becomes like a symphony.

I saw your exhibition of "lost" album sleeves last year and I'd like to know about your musical influences, especially with regard to the content of the launch night for this exhibition... how do they relate to the way you work?
Music and me have always been close. I can't play anything properly and would have loved to. All my sisters are musical. I went to piano lessons once because my sister told me the teacher gave you a mini mars bar afterwards. I got the mars bar and he told me the piano wasn't for me. I would probably agree. I have been in some strange musical outfits like the nu-cabaret outfit The Meatballs in Jersey and the Victorian punk revivalists The Rubbishmen. I am hoping on the launch night to bring together some friends who have musical projects and have a mash up and the punk-poet Jock Scot's going to perform, who is also in the show, The Fat White Family are playing...  I'm not too sure how the launch will pan out because there's so much happening.

I see a parallel between the impermanence of musical artistic detritus; sleeves, sleeve notes, rock criticism and the idea of postcards, is that something you feel strongly about? 
I think that sleeves and sleeve notes have been an important thing for me right back to the first records I bought. In a pre-internet age the record was a source of information as well as music. And I think more time was spent on the overall look of the L.P. Bands like Crass... the artwork, the sleeves, the lyrics...  were so important to what they were saying. And it was so interesting to look at and read. It's art with a message. I also love the thank yous on records where the bands would name check other bands, people, drug dealers, writers, artists, cafes, pubs, organizations. You could read all this stuff and come out of it knowing some new stuff. We have taken the thank you idea into the front of Le Gun, it's a very fun part of making the magazine. 

Are you still involved in making music? 
I have made a few things in the last few years and would like to make a solo album at some point before I die. Lias from The Fat White Family has made a backing band for me called Five Robert Rubbish Fans Cant Be Wrong. It's just me and The Fat Whites doing soul covers and a cover of one of their songs. It's wrong we have only done one gig to about five people in a pub in Brixton. Maybe we'll do a number or two at the launch, who knows? 

Ok, now I want to talk about Le Gun as an idea, you seem to associate strongly with the idea of the "collective". How do you feel that has benefitted you artistically as an individual? 

I think being in a collective was the thing that we felt was a good idea at the time. It meant we had strength in numbers and we could push our ideas forwards better. Le Gun is probably better known than any of us as individual artists around the world, so it gives us scope that we wouldn't get on our own. There was a whole load of us into the same art, literature, music, underground comics, drinking. At college you would see people, see their work and you know you'd never seen anything like it and you'd sort of gravitate towards each other.

The whole thing is a bit like a band then?
Yeah, you harness the individual energy for a greater gain. And yes, it is like a band in a sense because there's difficult relationships, everyone has an ego, there's communication problems... but when everybody's sitting there, together, you can really push things further. Things progress in a way they don't when you're on your own. There's totally different skill sets. There might be, like, motifs or ideas that go right back to our first book, which was, kind of, quite raw, I suppose. But as a whole there's always different threads and ideas. But the group makes it happen. It's bigger and we can be more epic.

Could you tell me more about the group of people who have contributed to the show?

All the artists in the show I know and like. The work and the people, so in that way I have curated (the show) in a personal way. I see that. And I gave them no brief or theme and have just waited to see what comes back. I've always liked whatever everyone has done.

How did you all (the Le Gun Collective) meet?

Just common interests. We met at the Royal College of Art in 2003, and we had to do this course called Personal Sense of Place, it was a sort of nerve-wracking slide show type of thing, and it was a really good indicator of how people were, you know? How boring someone was, or what they were into, what they liked. And then you would see the same people in the bar, drinking and you'd start from there. You started to see that Andrzej Klimowski, who was the course leader, had maybe chosen people, not chosen everyone... but there were definite connections, a lot of narrative ideas, storytellers, really. So yeah, the conversations you'd have were about, "Have you read this? Have you seen this film?" And you'd start seeing things in people's work and then the idea started to form that we should all do something. And then it was a money raising thing, so we started to do these parties, with print-making, group drawings. And that's how it all started. It became a kind of group consciousness.

There could be an obvious political reading to the idea of art as collective rather than as an individual enterprise. How pertinent would you say politics is to Le Gun, or Robert Rubbish's work generally?
Well, yeah. I mean, you can't call something a collective without realizing it's got some connotations. But I don't think it's a big politics, as such, it's more of a personal thing. I mean, we all hate David Cameron and the Torys. That's just common sense. I suppose I'd say my personal politics are a mix of the anarchic and the absurdist and some socialism. But I think politics is about big business and keeping the rich rich. There's a real lack of social responsibility. Capitalism is an idea where the end game is the destruction of the world's resources and we are living in a time that is seeing Capitalism not work, and there's no connection with politicians, it's all public schoolboys engaged in one-up-manship, and people don't care. And that's, I suppose, what we try and do with the magazine if anything, is show the sort of absurd nature of politics. It is absurd. But obviously as well, we work together and again, it's about a greater good.... the sum of your parts and all that.

Again, art as a collective pursuit? It's interesting because art is so often associated with being a solitary occupation.

Yeah, but you know, it goes back to the renaissance, loads of artists; in the renaissance, modern artists, the Chapman Brothers having teams of people making models, whatever -artists have always used other people.

... but our cult of personality means we need to believe in the great artist?

Yes, right. I mean, Damien Hirst is Damien Hirst to us, not Damien Hirst PLC although that is exactly what he is. But it's not a new thing, it's always been like that. And you know, you learn as well, while you're there. It's like if you were a tailor, you'd go and work for someone on Savile Row, and eventually you'd go off and do you own thing. Or, you'd like to think you'd go off and do your own thing.

Ok, lastly, I'd like to ask a few questions about the Robert Rubbish book, how did you select the work that is included?

I just chose work that I've created since I started going under the name Robert Rubbish, so from 2007 to now, basically.

Again, like a band name?
Yeah, I suppose it is. I wanted a pseudonym, and I was doing The Rubbishmen at the time... so yeah, I chose work from that period, some of it is Rubbishmen stuff, some of it drawings, assemblages, all sorts.

Did you become aware of any progression of ideas as you sorted your own work chronologically that you weren't aware of as you've continued to make art?

Yes I think my work progresses with what I get into at the time. And I try and create work that reflect my latest interests. Soho has always been a big influence on my work and Victorian stuff, drinking, joke shops. But I see a lot of motifs and things cropping up, stylistic things. It's also interesting to see little spells where I draw or paint more, and ideas that I move on over time, where I can see I've said to myself, "Oh, I like that, I'll expand on that..." and later have done, without thinking almost.

Finally, what is your favourite piece in the book?

My favourite piece in the book is my homage to Martin Kippenburger's work, Feet First, which is a frog, crucified, wearing a loin cloth and holding a German beer in one hand and an egg in the other. But it's a great piece of art when you read about it... I mean when I first saw it, I thought it was quite a novelty piece, really. I thought it was funny, but also intriguing. And it's all about machismo, creation, religion, big ideas, you know? And I was inspired and wanted to make a homage. I only really came across his work, because we were asked to do a group thing in Paris about the Paris Bar in Berlin, and he'd painted the bar, and hung out there, drank, ate… so we looked at doing a group drawing and I started getting into him, reading about him, looking at his work. And then I saw that piece and it really tickled me and I wanted to make a homage. I was thinking about how to make this thing, and I went to this carboot sale and I saw this Kermit the frog for sale and I thought, "Oh, I want to think this is fate." I mean, not fate, but sort of... I like it when you have an idea, and then the way of doing it sort of just comes to you somehow. It's like Bob Dylan, where he says that he could always just see the path ahead. Like he knows that if he did this, this and this, it would come together. And I felt that with the Kermit and that piece in the book.

Friday, 30 November 2012

South Bank Poetry launch night at the Poetry Cafe...

I'll be reading a couple of poems at the launch night of South Bank Poetry's latest issue next week.
We'll be at the Poetry Cafe, in Covent Garden, on December 5th, further details can be found here, and also reading will be Ruth O'Callaghan, Stuart Mackenzie, Claire Booker, Christian Ward, Angela Croft, Michael Wyndham, Laura Hume, Bernard Battley and Chris Hardy.

Hopefully see a few of you down there.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Poem in South Bank Poetry issue 14...

South Bank Poetry's latest issue features my poem Strawweight, and came out a couple of week's ago.

Anyone interested can purchase a copy here.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Caught By The River Social Club...

Hey all,

I'll be reading a few poems here early next year. Should be a great night, in a really great pub.
See you there...

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Kelly and Victor

I was so happy to see Kieran Evans' film Kelly and Victor at the London Film Festival last night. It was a perfect antidote to so much of the vacuous, aspirational Downton-tainment that we are inundated with. The film looked incredible and held that magical line between revealing the brutal de-humanization process that people in deprived areas all over the country, but more specifically urban in this case, are still undergoing as a result of the strip-and-sell politics of Thatcher (heed the warnings... this film could not be more prescient.), and the tender, beautiful moments of humanity that take take root like dandelions, spiking through the cracked concrete (or deeper, causing the cracks) in sharp green shards of nature defiant. A haunting story - as haunting as a life, or city itself, with all the wonder, love and pain thrown in, a beautiful paean to a place and the people that haunt it.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Osborne on benefit "fairness"...

A quote taken from The Guardian today...

"So we are absolutely clear that those with the broadest shoulders must bear the broadest burden. But our conception of fairness, and this is perhaps where we differ from the Labour party, also extends to the welfare system. We also think it's unfair that when that person leaves their home early in the morning, they pull the door behind them, they're going off to do their job, they're looking at their next-door neighbour, the blinds are down, and that family is living a life on benefits. That is unfair as well, and we are going to tackle that as part of tackling this country's economic problems."

This is exactly the kind of emotive, imaginary, anecdotal bullshit that the Tories continue to use to justify their unabated attacks on the people they are paid to govern, not wage war on. The stupidity and immaturity of the drivel spouted here is just lamentable. Not just because it comes from a public figure who we can surely expect to at least have a kind of basic respect for everyone he is elected to represent, but more because this is the overly simplistic view of a grown man, for chrissssakes. I've heard Jeremy Kyle offer stiffer analysis than this.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Festival No.6

Hey all.
Sorry there's been so little action on here recently.
Seems like everything happens in the same fortnight about this time of year, festivals, last-ever shows, birthdays... blah blah blah.

Anyway, next weekend I am completely honoured to be reading at the CBTR/Faber Social stage at Festival No.6.

I'll be co-hosting a 45 minute poetry slot with John Barlow, a fellow CBTR poet and I think it's going to be great, so hopefully see you there...

A new poem on the site as well today. Cheers, Jeff, Andrew, Robin etc!

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Come Down and Meet the Folks...

It's going to be a real pleasure to finally take the stage at Come Down and Meet the Folks on August 12th. Run by seminal UK cosmic country pioneer Alan Tyler, it's a genuine honour to have been asked to do it. More info on their site, here.
Hopefully see a few of you down there.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

The End of (the Outside) World...

A huge thank you to everybody that made Port Eliot such a great time. John Andrews and all the Arcadian crew, and also Jeff, Carl, Danny and all in the Caught By The River bar for creating what genuinely feels like a tiny haven from the world for a few days.

It is a truly jarring experience to come back to news of a startlingly shrinking economy, RVP's impending choice between Utd or City, South African cricketing celebrations and London bathed in sunshine.

Such a shame the festival is having a year off next year. But I'm not one to dwell in sentimental reverie.

As the man said, the past is a foreign country... and Lovejoy doesn't live there anymore.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Port Eliot Festival...

I'll be getting in the van down to Cornwall tomorrow morning for what is a genuine highlight of my year. I only wish the weather could see its way to acting just a little less "end of the world", and maybe a little more "end of the pier".

I'll be reading on the Saturday, at 12.30 on the Five Dials stage, and then at 2.30 in the Andrews Of Arcadia installation in the Caught By the River area. Which is down by the river, funnily enough.

See a few of you there, I hope.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Please Plant These Songs...

The Brautigan Book Club have put together this beautiful little collection of songs to play alongside their re-imagining of Brautigan's Please Plant This Book at the Dinefwr Festival recently.

All the songs on there are great, and the whole project is the work of some truly dedicated and brilliant people. It's an honour to be on there.

Friday, 15 June 2012

A New Poem...

...  up on Caught By The River, if anyone fancies a read.

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Jubilation Time Has Come...

I'm already sick of the jubilee. Every magazine full of penile sausages, pork pies and red white and blue.
£3000 Union Flag high heels and female columnists cooing over the Queen's effortless wardrobe.
Well done Your Majesty. Here's to another 60 years of benign exploitation. It's heartbreaking to see
the country bowing its collective head in servitude to the pinnacle, the seed, the beating heart of the unfair class system that has allowed capitalism in Europe to run amok both morally and practically.

But who cares if we get a couple of days off work to eat Asda sausage rolls and look at the rich people's pretty clothes?
Every photo of a street party that I've seen in the press is full of white people. Is anyone else invited?

Cut out your Rob Ryan Jubilee Bunting and enjoy the sun.

Smile while you drown at their party. You'll drown in cheap cava while they drink champagne
in the gardens that they've built upon your country. That they've walled off and de-marked.
That they've labelled property and that they value higher than human life.

You're allowed in. For one day only.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Telegraph Review...

... A nice piece here about the Caught By The River Variety Show at The South Bank in the Telegraph's culture section.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Long Division Festival

Big thanks to anybody who came and listened at The South Bank on Friday. It was a beautiful evening.
The band will be re-convening this weekend for Long Division in Wakefield.

The line-up looks great, and it's our last show of the summer while we finish the new record.

Hope to see some familiar faces up there.


Wednesday, 9 May 2012

CBTR on the South Bank...

... the 5th birthday celebrations for the wonderful Caught By The River are coming up and it promises to be a great event as well as a lot of fun. Some of the site's best contributors in a beautiful space promise to make it a fantastic evening.

Tickets can be purchased here.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

A Kind Of Justice...

Firstly, in a rare moment of magnanimity, I will say now that I almost, half agree with some of the chest beating rhetoric we have seen in the UK press today regarding last night's Chelsea 'heroes'. It would be churlish and mean-spirited to deny that there was something wonderful (in the true sense of that word) about watching the improbable unfurling from the impossible in the second half of a thoroughly entertaining game...

However, while I can understand Chelsea players and fans wanting to see an amnesty on the yellow cards shown to their players in the semi-final against Barcelona, I can't help but feel like those suspensions somehow represent the true legacy of the kind of football Chelsea played over the two legs of the match. They didn't play, they defended, and when you defend without the ball for 80-odd percent of a football match, you give away fouls. You give away yellow cards. I cannot see a more logical progression of events than one whereby an entirely negative approach to a match (never more cynically revealed than in Terry's sending off) over both legs results in you having players suspended because they have basically been asked to play against the law of averages with the amount of tackles they have had to make.

Cruel, unjust and unfair is how some Spanish reporters labelled last night, and to an extent that is as true as it ever is in sport, a notoriously arbitrary moralizer, but a sense of justice is visible through those suspensions and for that reason they must stand.

Oh and also a small part of me is pleased to note that Fabregas has still got that cabinet maker on hold...

Like I say, magnanimity has never been my long suit.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Record Store Day...

With all the furore and euphoria surrounding Record Store Day there was an element of poignancy about reading this today. Jason played in Rough Trade's East shop on the first Record Store Day and later that night came to watch the band play at The Windmill, with Centro-Matic. It was a strange day of hanging out with someone we all thought of as a genuine hero. For everyone in the band Jason was right up there with the people whose music had really inspired us into doing what we were doing... So to have him come along to a show, have a few beers with us and talk about Warren Zevon and Waylon and Wallace Stevens was a strange and heady experience. It might as well have been Zevon himself there with us, such is our respect for Jason's art.

Anyway, I wanted to echo the sentiment in this piece and think about a hero facing difficult times...

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

West Country Girl...

I've written a small piece about this great place I was taken to in Paris a couple of nights ago on the Rough Trade Blog.

It is a really great little creperie that is ploughing a worthy furrow. Great food and drink. Good music.

Sometimes you stumble on a small pocket of something that is about art and love and being human.

It just feels fucking wholesome in a world of shit.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

The Brautigan Book Club

Last night I attended my first Brautigan Book Club evening. It was at Bethnal Green Working Men's Club and there were lots of very cool and friendly people there talking about Richard Brautigan and books and art and drinking. It was a lot of fun and I whole heartedly recommend the whole thing to anyone with even a passing interest in Brautigan's work.

There was a really great quasi-poetic discourse on Kool-Aid and it's function in the American counter-culture from Fuchsia Voremberg, and a song by a man called Stephen Caines who managed to play a ukelele without making me want to destroy my own ears. He sang beautifully as well.

Here is the website for the whole deal....

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Conflict and Interest...

There seems to me to be a fairly obvious and very dangerous dichotomy between the idea of providing services such as health care, justice and basic policing for all and the idea that these services be a platform for profit-making for private companies. And this isn't about the NHS although that is a prime example of an idea under just such a threat. I just cannot understand how this government (ha!) can continue to violently dismantle every institution left available that has yet to be completely transformed from a public body designed to serve the human beings that need it into a market, re-drawing it in the shape of the financial bodies that have so badly failed themselves and everybody else left trapped in this para-existence of their making. Farming out contracts to perform police procedures to a set of shadowy highest bidders at a time when the Met's reputation with the general public is as low as it is is frankly breathtaking.
Nearly a year on from watching while politician after politician irresponsibly and patronizingly refused to address anything approaching an astute or intelligent analysis of the London riots, we are to be faced with a true Orwellian nightmare. What channels would a News International Security Corps™ squad have had to go down to arrest Rebekah Brooks today? I believe there is a simple phrase that applies here, and it is conflict of interest. For a government otherwise obsessed with both these words, I am amazed they have failed to spot either here.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Please Open Your Textbooks...

... on page one, cover drive courtesy of The Wall™.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Horses, Stables, Bolts...

Maybe I am being somewhat naive, but reading the increasingly desperate news concerning Rangers this week, one sentence leapt straight off the (virtual) page at me today - the BBC reporting that the SFA are investigating whether Craig Whyte satisfies their 'fit and proper person' criteria. This information seems to me to be coming at an incredibly late stage. And also seems a little bit pointless now as well. Surely if he is found not to meet the criteria, then the SFA itself must shoulder some of the responsibility for the current situation, in light of not implementing these checks at the time of Whyte's takeover.

A horrible situation for fans of Rangers, and I simply cannot believe those rumblings coming out of Celtic that refuse to admit that their own standing will be diminished courtesy of losing their city rivals as meaningful competition for a number of years, at the very least.

Perhaps the only positives to come are yet to be seen. An end to some of the more pernicious elements of the sectarianism that has dogged the Old Firm as a footballing idea? We'll see...

Monday, 5 March 2012

Caught By The River 5th Birthday...

... It is a huge honour to be reading some poems alongside the other names involved in the Caught By The River Variety Show on May 25th.

More details here.

Friday, 24 February 2012


I'm excited at the prospect of having a pint or two here this weekend.

I'll also be paying homage to a man whose work resonates as loudly as ever today...

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Troubled Striker Of The Week...

Great to see English cricket's last character back to his best.
A talent never in doubt in these quarters.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Friday, 17 February 2012

Faber Social at Selfridges...

Adam and I will be playing a short set at the Faber Social Closing Party for Selfridges' Words Words Words season on March 1st. The evening looks like it will be extremely fun, with some steller literary guests reading courtesy of the good people at Faber, and drinks courtesy of the good people at The Social, possibly the best bar in central London. Details of the event can be found here, maybe see a few of you down there.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Troubled Striker Of The Week...

Always sorely missed during any Pakistan Test series, it was great to see Boom Boom back in the first One-Dayer. But as much as I love his bowling, his wicket celebration, his big, infectious grin and his perfect floppy hair, I'd love to see a couple of real explosive batting performances from him. I miss those almost as much as I missed that hair when he cut it short a couple of years ago.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

The North...

Thanks so much to everyone in Wakefield for making the 'Creeper's latest Northern sojourn as fun and productive as ever... recording work all done on the record and now just some mixing and sequencing decisions to be made before it sees the light.

Hopefully have some kind of preview up on-line soon.

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

The Last Moving Thing...

A new poem on Caught By The River today.

You can read it here, if you so choose.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Panesar Returns. (An Old) Order Is Restored...

Few images in sport can elicit the kind of warmth in my chest that the sight of Monty Panesar celebrating a wicket can.

It is an oddly comforting experience to once more be listening to the cricket, willing on a genuinely classy England performer, one who has never given anything other than his very best, while also bristling from time to time at the thinly veiled patronization lurking in every back handed compliment dished out by the dear old chaps in the ancient bastion of cultural diversity that is Test Match Special. Welcome back, Monty.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Last Night...

A great night last night at the Caught By The River Social Club.
Thanks to everyone who came down and listened, to John for a brilliant stint as anchor and Robin Turner and Charles Rangeley-Wilson for allowing me to share the stage with them.

A new poem went up on the site at the weekend as well...

Read it here if you want.


Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Troubled Striker Of The Week...

I often ask myself the question...

"Are we worse now that I care less? Or are we worse because I care less?"

As does the Russian existentialist and once great exponent of the midfielder-forward position, Andrey Arshavin.

Friday, 20 January 2012

The Short Term...

Andre Villas-Boas' assertion about reserve teams that has been reported in the press today is a salient one; perhaps the relative strength and high level of competitive football that Barcelona and Real Madrid's B Teams play to does have a positive impact on their first team's abilities to bring through players from their academies, but it is also a moot point. The fact is, that the second tier leagues in almost every other European country are almost completely redundant. They're not as widely watched, followed in the press or pored over in the way that the Championship or more pertinently Leagues One and Two are here. Even the Conference has a huge profile compared to anything of a similar standard in Spain or Germany. Although there isn't anything comparable in either Germany or Spain, who have three and two professional leagues respectively. This has arguably created a skewed situation in this country because players who are by definition mediocre (and what I mean by this is relative to other professional players) are disproportionately rewarded, both financially and culturally (big stadia that are filled even in the lower leagues, TV presence at matches, national media exposure) for playing at what is, again speaking relatively, a fairly low level. You can be set up for life playing football in what used to be the third division. While that cannot be good for the standard of player being developed by our game, it is an inescapable by-product of our football culture. As a country we love football clubs, as much as we love football, whatever league they play in; they are old, traditional, familial and the fact that a club as venerable, not to mention recently successful, as Luton Town can now be playing four divisions below the top echelon and filling its stadium regularly is a state of affairs that just wouldn't happen anywhere else in Europe.
The real point though is that Villas-Boas' statement is all well and good, but the short-termist aesthetic peddled in the media and by fans that Chelsea and Man City's moneyed era has ushered in is diametrically opposed to the idea of nurturing young talent at big clubs. You only need look at the media (and fan) reaction to Wenger's last 5 years at Arsenal, where the club is regularly harangued as a failure, and yet in this time has actively pursued a policy based on development of players ahead of forking out hugely inflated transfer fees for established superstars (I hesitate to mention the £50m spent on one Fernando Torres when Chelsea already had Daniel Sturridge at the club, but only hesitate.). So he can't have it all. He can't have 50 million pound superstars warming one bench, and then have the Championship wrapped up by March courtesy of a bunch of expensive youngsters (all signed from the likes of Luton at the age of 15, no doubt...). No, sadly, he can't have it all. None of us can.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

The Greasy Pole...

I'm sure most people have already seen this; it's been posted elsewhere and I'm sure already commented on ad nauseum on Twitter and by far more interesting commentators, with far more witty and insightful things to say than me (I quite liked this piece in The Quietus, for example), but I had to mention it. The cricket was a bit boring, for a start...

EDIT: Just seen two wickets fell in the last couple of overs. I'd stopped listening by then, typically

I'm pretty sure I'm not actually offended by this article. I think I just feel sorry for Alex James. Is he ok, do you think? He certainly can't write. Unless he's preparing a children's book, and is using his "food" column in his "newspaper" to work out a suitable voice.
In fact his writing is the worst aspect of this whole sorry affair. The whole article reads like a disorientating mixture of children's school report and some archaic, naive propaganda piece. It's horrible. The whole thing is horrible.

I think a man should be judged by the company he keeps, and this picture is as damning a piece of evidence as anything...

Sunday, 15 January 2012

We're All In It Together..

... but not in the actual boat, presumably?

Friday, 13 January 2012

Chris Gayle...

A couple of summers ago, my family were about to go out for the day. Everyone was getting ready, putting on jackets, shoes, hats. I said I'd catch them up. I wanted to watch the first couple of overs of the West Indian chase against Australia. I thought I knew what would happen. Gayle would get out early, because I was watching and then I'd have to watch Ricky Ponting's tiny eyes crease up in smug satisfaction... wouldn't I?

An hour later I left the house with the biggest smile on my face having watched Brett Lee, still regularly firing them down at 90 MPH, completely and utterly destroyed. Look at his face on about 3.01! They must have needed 5 balls. Let's hope Gayle brings a bit of this to Somerset this summer. I don't think we'll see him over here playing for the West Indies again.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Caught By The River Social Club...

... I'm delighted to have been asked to read a few poems at the CBTR Social Club's first event of the year. At The Stag pub, in Hampstead, which looks like a great pub, and with a host of other writers and music from Trevor Moss and Hannah-Lou. Tickets available here.