Monday, 3 July 2017

KNOW ONE: Me reading my poems

These poems were the result of a project, KNOW ONE, undertaken by my bad self and visual artists Sirpa Pajunen Moghissi and Sue Spaull.  We visited each of London's 'magnificent seven' Victorian cemeteries, and chose a single subject from each.  A little research followed, and then the poems and accompanying art works.  All are acts of remembrance, and stand for all the forgotten.  It isn't Thomas Gray, but it is meant in a similar spirit. The pictures can be seen here and here:

Why it starts four minutes in beats me.  Certainly my own cackhandedness.  Please rewind, as 'twere.

Sunday, 2 July 2017

NZ 21 Lions 24

Rain.  And on the pitch thunder and lightning.  Godawful conditions, but what a tremendous struggle this was.  Not great rugby, but great sport.  I thought AWJ was immense, and made way for Lawes at just the right moment.  Itoje grows into himself.  Warbs and Faletau and O'Brien did what needed to be done.  Furlong's a nugget.  George made that Murray try. Sexton didn't break in two.  Farrell kicked that pen.  It was an 11 man game, so actually the absence of Sonny Bill was not as damaging to the ABs as it might have been in better conditions.  Barrett's misses were godsends, but kicking from the hand he was terrific.  To stop them scoring a try was something special  - the defence in that last quarter was something to behold.  I'd keep the same team for next week, but perhaps play Nowell instead of Daly.  He adds a little unexpectedness.  My knuckles are still sore as hell from punching the ceiling when Faletau scored.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Charlotte Mew

I've often tried to find the grave of Charlotte Mew, who is buried in Hampstead cemetery, where I walk my dog every day.  I have finally found her. She was lying down (her tombstone has collapsed).  Her life was a sad one.  Many of her poems are about death..  She wrote often from a masculine point of view, but her style is entirely her own.   Go here for full gen.

So, anyway, I've written a poem to mark the occasion.  Thought I might post it.  I write very few poems at the moment, so...


So with a smile he overstepped the grave

I’ve been looking for you, Charlotte Mew,
For quite a while, and now I’ve found you
I’ll return with a book one bright day
And, being dead, you’ll not turn away.

I’ve stepped over you a dozen times
Map marked for an outstanding stone.
Wasn’t ready for collapse, the lone
Prone unmarker among upright lines.

I shall stand above you in the rain
And I’ll watch your dull limestone sheening
I shall stand above you in the sun
While the damned parakeets are keening,
Now I’ve found you, Charlotte Mew.

Wynn Wheldon

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Dickens and Thackeray

'It is usual to compare Dickens with Thackeray, which is like comparing the grape with the gooseberry; there are obvious points of resemblance, and the gooseberry has some superior qualities of its own; but you cannOt make red wine of it.' 

Friday, 2 June 2017


Is it silly of me to wonder whether, given the people who surround him - Milne (East Germany the workers' paradise), Murray (no! North Korea the workers' paradise) - and his own skewed idea of what is right, Corbyn is likely to share state secrets with his pals' pals in Moscow, Pyongyang, Gaza, Caracas, etc..? Be interesting to know quite how NATO would feel about his PM-ship, and I daresay the EU would be delighted that the UK was on its way out. 

So yes, I admit, I would rather have May, who has proved herself an utter flop, than Corbyn, if only because she is not him. I don't think she is actually dangerous. I know he is.  I don't think domestic politics will be that much different, one way or another: we're heading for a fall. In the (incredibly) still unlikely event of the Dear Leader becoming PM, those who fear the worst will find it not so bad, and those poor dear souls who think JC is the Messiah will be sadly disappointed. At least there'd be a proper opposition. Truth is, Corbyn's just another politician. I'll vote Liberal Democrat because it is the only party to have an agenda at least partly based on reason. I voted to Remain. I still vote to Remain, and curses on those who don't (most of you, it would seem, especially the young, who were so ready to blame the old for Brexit - eat yourselves children).

Saturday, 27 May 2017


I'll be supporting Sue Whitmore reading from her new collection, along with Chrys Salt,  at the Torriano Meeting House on Sunday (28th May)

Address: 99 Torriano Avenue, Kentish Town, London NW5 2RX
Directions: From Kentish Town tube station walk up Leighton Road
and turn left onto Torriano Avenue. 
Phone for enquiries: 0207 267 2751 / 0207 482 0044 (Susan).

Thursday, 25 May 2017

CULTURE, INNIT: Hockney, Giacometti, Tillmans and Egan

An indulgent day yesterday.  Started at Tate Britain, with a second look at Hockney.  Helped lift the despond that had fallen on us all the previous day.  Is there a painter more full of life than Hockney, of curiosity, of genuine thrill in the observed world?  Then a stroll through one or two of the regular galleries.  Old friends - 'Hope' by Watts (not how Hockney would paint the subject) - and new (didn't take names).

Then, by boat, to Tate Modern.  How much more fun this would have been had it not been an enclosed catamaran.  If the authorities want people to use the river more, then health and safety have to be relaxed and people given some responsibility for themselves.  Oh well.  It was novel at least.

Tate Modern: Giacometti.  Obviously lots of very thin, very knobbly people (impossible to avoid the idea that he was rather compulsive in this) but also humour.  They were teeny-weeny-winy and VERY VERY TALL, with plenty in-between.  Put me in mind of Samuel Beckett.  Mt favourite room was actually the second, which was full of rather delicate surrealist sculptures in various mediums, and also contained a piece entitled 'Disagreeable Object' (very Beckett). The drawings and paintings must have been known by Francis Bacon.

Went to the members Bar for a lemonade.  For some insane reason their outside tables are made of metal and perfect for convecting heat (or, I imagine, cold).  I bravely sat with the Shard before me and read my book, Jennifer Egan's 'The Invisible Circus'. and wrote a postcard to my granddaughter (Giacometti's rather wonderful dog).

Then I tried the Wolfgang Tillmans. Underwhelming - though perhaps it wasn't fair on the chap asking him to follow Hockney and Giacometti. The difference between the exceptional and the quotidian.

Back home then, and out to a friend's for the football and a home-cooked Indian.  Perfect day.  I'm a lucky sod.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017


Apparently, the great canvas that I, er, devised, for the forthcoming KNOW ONE exhibition, has been vandalised and lost to posterity.  Well, it has been painted over at any rate.  Because I was foolishly rather proud of it, I here present the only known photograph of said piece, in all its glory.  The canvas is about 6 ft x 6 ft.

Sunday, 7 May 2017


Reposting, because 'The Devil's Tattoo' is exceptional.  The link takes you to my review -

Details as to how to order are here:

Wynn Rees, I think you'd especially enjoy this.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017


Proudly parenting Mr Caleb Wheldon...

Captain of Tusken City Raiders, Mr C G P Wheldon, in full flight
photo by Briony-Molly Photography

Monday, 1 May 2017


Proudly parenting Dr Thomas Arnold...


In Germany, these machines are called 'baggers'.  The figure in the yellow is my grand-daughter, Johanna.  Photo by my son Thomas (I assume).  One of my favourite pictures ever in the history of the world etc.  Nothing beats a JCB if you're two and a half years old.


Self, probably around 1967.  Obviously couldn't find my boots.
Come On You Spurs

North of London

In a garden, a little way north of London, self and son Jacob, laughing. Craig and Gemma's engagement party (didn't know such things still existed, but very cheerful do, with superior food).  Photo by Ms Paulina Keamy.  Later, Spurs beat Arsenal 2-0, thereby becoming North London's Top Team.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

GE 2017

For the first time in my political life, I don't feel like a dissident approaching a General Election.  While my friends have almost always leaned left, I have tended to lean right, in a libertarian way so far as social policy is concerned and in an anti-badguys way with regard to foreign policy.  I've tended, I believe, to vote with my head rather than my heart.  Pragmatism has always appealed to me more than idealism.  I can't believe in a perfect world; indeed I believe the attempt to promote one is getting on for diabolical. Perhaps that makes me fundamentally conservative - I think that people make mistakes, act badly, pave the road to hell with good intentions, and so on.  I don't think you can force them to do otherwise. So, anyway, this time round the nasty party is  Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party, not least for its sneering dismissal of the anti-semitism in its ranks. It is also obvious that Corbyn and his team are incompetent, so that policies hardly matter (not that the party appears to have any that its members can all agree upon). Corbyn is used to operating, manoeuvring, politicking, at local level. He is a small-minded man.  He was much involved in London Labour Briefing, an arm of Militant Tendency, the inflitrating far left organisation with which Neil Kinnock so almost-thoroughly dealt (Momentum is its child). Corbyn was pro-IRA, pro-USSR, pro-PLO. is anti-Israel, is pro-Iran and pro-Putin, supports Hamas, and thinks that the socialist dictators of Venezuela and Cuba are dandy fellows.  He is a Bennite Brexiteer.  If you want to vote for him, fine, but there is no moral high ground to be gained or even had: it is a vote for a destroyer.  I have no love for Theresa May, and I don't at all like the tone of much of the Brexit rhetoric - it seems to me fundamentally indecent.  Most of all I fear a complete absence of Opposition, which a Corbynite Labour Party promises.  Were Nick Clegg leader of the Liberal Democrats, I would have no hesitation in voting for his party.  He has faults, but certainly not those of Corbyn (whose faults are both moral and managerial), and not those of Theresa May, who seems nervous and control-freaky and overemphatic.  As it is, I shall have to vote for it hesitantly.  Though I can just about understand a Green vote, there is little choice otherwise.