September, 2012

The Pirate of Penance

Posted on: September 30th, 2012 by robert No Comments


"At every party there are two kinds of people – those who want to go home and those who don't. The trouble is, they are usually married to each other.” Ann Landers

I recently read an interview with someone in the literary fraternity who admitted to a peculiar aversion to parties. I instantly identified with this remark, thinking of my own long rocky relationship with le rassemblement festif. This mild party phobia is, I'm certain, a vestigial symptom of traumatic marginalised school days which means even 20 years later I still approach parties, at best, in the same way most would a job interview, or at worse, a root canal surgery. The prospect can bring about a riptide of anxiety, the type of which can only be assuaged by finding some restorative niche like a bathroom cubicle to hide in.

... Read More

The Pirate of Penance part two

Posted on: September 28th, 2012 by robert No Comments


At Lands End, somnambulistic Japanese tourists in rain hoods trundle about and assemble in clusters to block the footpath. I have the predictable photo opportunity standing before the famous sign – which is now cordoned off to squeeze more money out of visitors - £15 for an official print taken by a dour ruddy-faced chap which, I decide, is criminal. So bloody what if you can have your name(s) and date fixed to the sign too! Instead, I intermittently ask various folk to take one of me on my camera, and stand ignominiously before the cordon forcing a smile, awaiting one of them to actually display some photographic aptitude. It takes awhile.

With a sudden pang of yearning for somewhere wild and desolate away from the crowds, I spot an unobtrusive grassy cliff path ostensibly stretching out into the distance and over to Sennon. And then I'm on it and I've arrived at a point in which I feel absolutely alive. It was a brisk September day with flashes of sunshine followed by frowning cloud. On my right, wild romantic moor land stretches as far as the eye can see, and to my left jagged cliff tops fall away to secluded creeks below where shipwrecks lay, abandoned and battered by the elements. Naturally, a splendid feeling of freedom and happiness abounds.

... Read More

Fifty Shades of Shite

Posted on: September 2nd, 2012 by robert No Comments


"Every time a friend of mine succeeds, a little piece of me dies." Gore Vidal

Gore Vidal is dead. That great American titan of letters departed into the great hereafter at the noble age of 86. I'm reminded of one particular anecdote where the controversialist and political manque was ignominously brained by Norman Mailer at a cocktail party on account of comments Vidal had made about the Pugilistic literary juggernaut. Vidal had reportedly given him a less than favourable review of one of his books- and allegedly made reference to an occasion where Mailer had stabbed his wife with a pen knife. “Once again words fail Norman Mailer,” was Vidal’s cavalier comeback as he lay splayed on the floor with bloodied nose.... Read More

The Familial Paraclete

Posted on: September 1st, 2012 by robert No Comments


"Neither the sun nor death can be looked at steadily."  Francois de La Rouchefoucauld

"Why should dog, a horse, a rat have life, And thou no breath at all?"   King Lear, Shakespeare

My grandmother spent her final years frequently succumbing to sudden emotional displays which involved great big heaving sobs. This was after a lifetime proudly claiming she was unable and even incapable of crying. Often she'd express tremendous envy at people on television who could easily yield to tears. The reason for such unexpected lachrymose moments towards the end remained a mystery to us since they represented just another uncharacteristic trait which developed after a stroke robbed her of her mental faculties – including the ability to communicate. Coherence had completely left her. What remained was a jumble of words and immense frustration, which we all abjectly felt but were unable to remedy.

... Read More