Let me explain machines to you, my dears. They're all fascists. If you can't think like they do you're doomed to burn in hell. That's all you need to know.
Last night my partner and I went to hear a blues band called The Blueswater at a small local venue. The evening kicked off with the singer performing a Skip James number (before the rest of the band joined him) with just a guitar on his knees and a bottle neck. He did it really well. The band followed up with a load of my favourites – numbers made famous by Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters and the like, numbers written by the God, Willy Dixon.
We'd been to this venue before, and at the bar prices are astronomical. We smuggled in our own beer. Read More
Anti-Semitism has been described as 'The Longest Hatred.' It has so often been used by those with power and influence to distract ordinary people's attention for other, real and pressing problems. You only have to think about Germany in the '30s.
Is this what's happening now in the UK's Labour Party? Is the right wing press using accusations of anti-Semitism to tear the left apart? It looks like it.
But is there anti-Semitism in the Left leadership? Yes, it looks like it.
Is there anti-Semitism on the Right too? There always has been and I'd be very surprised if there weren't now. Read More
If I were wise I'd be ballyhooing my new hot-off-the-presses sequel to Lady Bag: Crocodiles and Good Intentions. But it's hot and I'm unaccountably irritated, and I'm no good at self-promotion, so I'll go with the irritation instead.
Okay, here's my beef: I'm not all that interested in clothes – I like them old, soft, loose and comfortable. But sometimes my nearest and dearest persuade me to go for something other than what I kid myself is charity shop chic. So sometimes I go out and spend money. And here's the bugbear: no matter how much I spend, no matter how soft the fabric is, the labels the designers and manufacturers sew into the garments always scratch, itch and at worst bring me out in a rash. Why is this? Can't they be bothered? Are they cutting costs? Are they punishing me for not buying something even more expensive? I need to know. After only one outing I have to cut the labels out which means that I lose the washing instructions.
This is what I felt was a more important and pressing subject to rant about on this hot and humid day than self-promotion.
Someone care to go out and promote it for me? I'm not too scratchy to carry a cheque to the bank.
Well, I'm sorry Philip Roth has died. But thinking about him and his idiosyncratic take on the world he lived in reminded me of an incident from long, long ago in my must-spent youth when he was very nearly responsible for my early death.
It was summertime and I'd driven down to beautiful Lyme Regis. I was, I hoped at the time, a rebel, a risk-taker and experimental in my attitude to experience. In other words, I was an art student who'd read Jack Keroac, de Quincey and many others. And I'd probably understood very little. But on this day I had a little mescaline in one pocket, Keat's Endymion in another, and a copy of Portnoy's Complaint in my bag.
I settled on a cliff top overlooking a truly spectacular view and took the mescaline. I sat crossed legged with a notebook in front of me ready to draw my visions, or the seascape in front of me , or to write poetry.
Nothing happened. There were no imaginings of transcendental beauty, no incredible creativity, and no words of wit or wisdom occurred to me.
I began to get bored so I took Portnoy's Complaint out of my bag, propped myself on my elbows and began to read. Previously I hadn't been particularly entranced by a story about a young guy's wanking history but after about twenty minutes I began to laugh. Every word Philip Roth wrote struck me as so hysterically funny that I was rolling on the ground convulsed with unstoppable laughter.
A couple of ramblers very fortuitously interrupted me just me as I was about to roll off the edge of the cliff. I'd like to take this late opportunity to thank them for saving my life, and for the bottled water they made me drink; less for the lecture, but hey, life-savers don't have to be perfect.
And writers don't have to be killers. But. Philip Roth nearly was.
There have been several excuses in the past couple of weeks to gnaw my fingernails down to the second knuckle.
First there was the Post Office telling me there is no connection between itself and Royal Mail: that false information put on a label by someone at the Post Office which resulted in a lost parcel had nothing to do with the PO because the information on the PO's computer was from a Royal Mail site. Not our problem, mate.
Then there's Bose who refuse to repair a very expensive piece of kit even if I pay them Read More
Coming back to a horrible subject – I receive regular pornographic emails. I consign them to junk and block the domains of the senders, but they just keep coming.
Occasionally I check them out. Some purport to be sent by men, others by women. The stuff supposedly sent by men threatens me with exposure for wanking to porn sites. When it's apparently from women who 'know what men want' it is simple-minded and disgusting. Both approaches presume to be telling men what they want and what they're doing about it. That's a presumption insulting to men and damaging to women.
Are men so stereotypical in enough numbers to make this kind of fishing worthwhile? Read More
Last week my friend joined the likes of TE Lawrence and Ernest Hemingway when he lost two crucial chapters of the book he's writing.
This concerns me because I was helping with rewrites and editing. In my clumsy way I take a hard copy and on it write in pencil all my corrections, suggestions and lyrical pensées. Pencil notes can be erased and ignored but if they're lost they're gone forever. No copy exists, no carbon, no electronic trace on a memory stick.
You'd think, in the electronic age, that this kind of incident was a thing of the past. Read More
Today I had another email from Haggerty James which began, 'Hello my victim' and ended 'Think twice.'
Apparently I have been filmed masturbating to porn. My blackmailer will send the video to everyone on my hacked contact list tomorrow unless I pay $290 US using bitcoins. There are detailed instructions about how to mine bitcoins.
As scams go, I think this might be quite a good one. I like the idea of pornography being made using the customers of pornography as its subjects. And I like the idea that there might be a few people around ashamed enough to pay up.
Porn isn't a victimless crime.
All the movies I've seen in the past few months have been women led: Hidden Numbers, The Florida Project, Molly's Game, Three Billboards in Ebbing Missouri, Lady Bird, and I, Tonya. These are not all art house movies. They may not be big budget La-La-Land fare, but they're American and Hollywood-ish. There's a lot to applaud. And a lot more to hope for. Although I have to say I felt that I, Tonya was a true American tragedy, played for laughs.
I'm so impressed with two older actors: Frances McDormand and Laurie Metcalf – absolutely riveting, bad hair and all.