Tuesday, 30 April 2019


Wonderful poem by Les Murray, the great Australian poet, who has just died.  Brought to my attention by Brett Evans, a first class Welsh poet.

by Les Murray

The first night of my second voyage to Wales,
Tired as rag from ascending the left cheek of Earth
I nevertheless went to Merthyr in good company
And warm in neckclothing and speech in the Butcher's Arms
Till Time struck us pintless, and Eddie Rees steamed in brick lanes
And under the dark of the White Tip we repaired shouting

To I think the Bengal. I called for curry, the hottest,
Vain of my nation, proud of my hard mouth from childhood,
The kindly brown waiter wringing the hands of dissuasion
O vindaloo, sir! You sure you want vindaloo, sir?
But I cried Yes please, being too far in to go back
The bright bells of Rhymney moreover sang in my brains.

Fair play, it was frightful. I spooned the chicken of Hell
In a sauce of rich yellow brimstone. The valley boys with me
Tasting it, croaked to white Jesus. And only pride drove me,
Forkful by forkful, observed by hot mangosteen eyes,
By all the carnivorous castes and gurus from Pant,
My brilliant tears washing the unbelief of the Welsh.

Oh it was a ride on Watneys plunging red barrel
Through all the burning ghats of most carnal ambition
And never again will I want such illumination
For three days on end concerning my own mortal coil
But I signed my plate in the end with a licked knife and fork
And green-and-gold spotted, I sang for my pains like the free
Before I passed out among all the stars of Cilfynydd.

Friday, 5 April 2019

Canterbury Tales, General Prologue

       Whan that Aprill, with his shoures soote
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote
And bathed every veyne in swich licour,
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
Whan Zephirus eek with his sweete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the Ram his halfe cours yronne,
And smale foweles maken melodye,
That slepen al the nyght with open eye-
(So priketh hem Nature in hir corages);
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages…

Geoffrey Chaucer


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Monday, 4 February 2019


One of my top guys.  Astounding how he manages to make pictures that are both pleasing and true.  Hockney owes a lot to him.  I think especially that purple shadow colour. Hitchens too, I think.

Many of my favourite pictures are painted from above - as from a step ladder.  The dining tables, Marthe in the bath etc.. 

And all those nudes of Marthe, his lifelong companion, how intimate they are, and they give a clue as to the trick Bonnard performs: His world is tremendously used, imperfect, and wholly familiar.  It is, in a sense, comic (not haha - indeed occasionally boohoo).  Wittering now, so here are some pics.

Sunday, 3 February 2019


“Black Panther” - was told it was fairly ordinary.  Had enough of suerhero movies anyway.
“BlacKkKlansman” - Kevin Allen said it was pants, so not going.
“Bohemian Rhapsody” - can't stand Queen
“The Favourite” - must see list
“Green Book” - absolutely wonderful
“Roma” - moving, beautiful, lots of dog-poo.
“A Star Is Born” - cracking stuff.  Good chemistry
“Vice” - meh, may watch one day.

Remarks, recommendations, disagreements welcomed.  Is 'The Favourite' as good as 'Green Book' is the only question I need answering otherwise. 

Friday, 1 February 2019



Egan, Brennan, O'Carroll and Kelly.
Four Londoners from County Kerry.

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

BOOKS 2019

DAVID COPPERFIELD by Charles Dickens
TZILI by Aharon Appelfeld
A WEEKEND IN NEW YORK by Benjamin Markovits
A HANDFUL OF DUST by Evelyn Waugh
THE NEIGHBOURHOOD by Mario Vargas Llosa
TO THROW AWAY UNOPENED by Viv Albertine (unfinished)
THE VANISHING MAN by Laura Cumming

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Heidelberg pics

Flying visit to Heidelberg in depths of winter.  Zoo and cinnamon snails.  And Gawain and the Green Knight (Cal) and David Copperfield (self).  Thomas, Nora, Johanna best hosts evs.

Monday, 7 January 2019

David Copperfield's Women

Can there be another book so highly populated with female characters?  It is a book, featuring Mr Micawber and Uriah Heep, no less, dominated by women.  I had never really noticed this before.  I read it first when i was 16, when I suppose I must have identified strongly with DC.  A second reading, I think in my thirties or forties, I simply luxuriated in.  Now these women strike me powerfully, as though Dickens is giving something away about himself.  And just as women are - despite all those godawful homogenising identity politics fascists we're hectored at by - just as people are - they are all quite tremendously different and themselves.

Clara Copperfield
Miss Murdstone
Betsey Trotwood
Mrs Gummidge
Little Em'ly
Mrs Gummidge
Miss Mowcher
Mrs Steerforth
Rosa Dartle
Mrs Crupp
Mrs Micawber
and more, I'm sure, whose names for the moment escape me.