But why does this man need my charity? He doesn’t look emaciated or ill, he’s not standing amid some massive disaster, or not obviously. He’s not unkempt, or apparently in distress, his clothing’s clean. What is it about him that I’m supposed to associate with charity? coop charity

Ennui … Wir alle sind hier, um genau das zu tun, was wir tun … aber warum?

I was at an acting gig once, a one-day workshop in Benwell, Newcastle, in a school during the holidays, all long draughty corridors empty of life. There was a handful of us actors who’d turned up, none of whom I knew, while the friend I’d expected to meet didn’t come and a casting agent I wanted to talk to came and left without word after five minutes. One comes to these things partly to learn, but also to network, only to find the others can be as inexperienced and unconnected as you are, but hey ho they’re nice people all starting out. Then one of them proves to be less interested in acting so much as desperate attention seeking … and these two ebullient young men start getting us to do exercises that really involve a lot of soul bearing in front of people you don’t know, nor to what end, while the world beyond is at work, earning money, progressing … but you’re here. Get on with it …

One of the fellow players was this old bloke, God knows where he’d come from, and at lunchtime we all sat at our table in the lunch hall / cafe, which was quite odd because it was in what had been the school pool, so the main eating area was this sunken area with pale blue tiles, connecting by shallow steps up to a surrounding mezzanine about four foot higher, and a girdered roof with skylights.

And this old bloke has bought a coffee and a slice of cake from the cake stand at the counter, and he chews away … and then he comments, ‘mm … mmmm … this cake is moist.’

*chew, chew, chew* …

‘Yes .. .mmm … yeah, moist.’ And no-one’s really talking because we’re all run out of things to say to one another, and this old man goes off on one, pouring forth about how surprised he was, pleasurably so, that the slice of cake he’d bought from the cafe was not only as moist as it was but that it was moist at all. Because he’d seen it and thought it looked nice, but maybe a bit dry, but he bought it anyway, cos he likes cake with his coffee, this kind of cake, well it was not really a cake it was a slice of Bakewell tart, and he thought he might have gone for the fruitcake instead because normally prefers fruitcake, but he went for this one, just for a change, and possibly against his better judgement, but hey ho, anyway, in the event, so it proved, it was ‘moist … mmm… moist. I didn’t think it would be. But it is moist. Mmm…wouldn’t have thought so. … mmm’

*crumbs shower the table*

‘Yes … yes … it’s moist.’

And you know I was listening to this, and this, this pall came over me, and really, listen to the music below, from about 2.30, 2.35 as he wittered and discoursed about the cake, then 3.00 I found myself staring first at the table, then out the window, then 4.00 my eyes rolled up towards the skylights, as I wondered, ‘Where is this going … where am I going …? Where has it all gone? …’

Britten – Frank Bridge, fugue and finale

Green man


Saw this man at Dachau last year, I was amazed at his apparel, he’s like some chavver leprechaurn, although a friend pointed out that if you want to have a go at someone for looking different a concentration camp is a good place to do it. Anyway at the QE hospital in Gateshead on Friday I saw this car and wondered if in fact it belonged to he above?

green car

SPURNED dictators

Cutting people you no longer like out of photos, it’s what dictators and scorned wives (OK partners, PC people) have been doing for decades. So bitter, such pique. Wow. What does it say, though? ‘You hurt me so much I’ve literally cut you out of my mind and everyone else’s!’ ‘I don’t want to think about you anymore! To look at you anymore!’ ‘I’ve erased you from my mind …’ … but it’s for all the world to see.

To draw such attention to such open wounds, in trying to erase these people from the world they show so rawly their inability to deal with the trauma of whatever they-who-no-longer-exist-nor-did-they-no-no-they-don’t actually did. None of us need ever have known what an impact this minister evidently had in closed conversations at the 14th plenary of Trotskyist Chicken Farming, or that after 8 years of deludedly happy marriage they upped and ended up in the arms of another man/woman.

Funnily enough, it’s also something akin to a technique of neuro-linguistic programming, where you take a ‘bad memory’ and visualise it as an image in your mind that you convert from colour to black & white, blur, shrink and throw away.


While I thought the new Terminator was shit there was one interesting scene where the Skynet-Google bods are announcing the dawn of a new era, and there’s a crowd of people ooing and aaing, and they really were the most gormless load of berks that Google and friends depend on to embrace their all-in-one-motherlode surveillance from pre-birth DNA to grave database. That and being extras who’d probably been on set for hours and were yet still ooing and aaing on being on a Terminator film.

The leads were too pretty. The music was that weird spreadsheet cantery strings and waaAAAA brass fanfare you get EVERYWHERE from shit ads to X Factor to quiz shows to younameitit’sthere. But the special effects were also boring. You know none of it’s real in any shape of form. There’s no mystery or means to marvel, ‘how did they do that?’ It’s all CGI which not only ruins films but has completely wiped out all the decades of craftsmanship built up. All those beautiful models, all the skills built up over generations of crafts’ people seen in Blade Runner and Star Wars, the animatronics seen in Alien and The Thing, from models to machines to puppets even in Return of the Jedi and Labyrinth, stop-motion, matte paintings, with a lot of visual sleight of hand thrown in. All gorn.

It kills the actors, too. The cast of Star Wars 1 whatever it was called were visibly zombified by wandering around in front of green screens all day (as indeed Alec Guinness complained in SW IV but at least he had something to look at and a location to hang out in like Tunisia and not some fuck off great big warehouse somewhere). Sir Ian McKellen said as much of the Hobbit, trying to get a reaction and dialogue with a load of egg things purporting to be hobbits that’ll later on be coloured in. It’s just impossible.

You simply cannot beat reality.

BRSet 1

on the beach


Work gangs of children in Sooth Shields 

I was at the Sandhaven sandcastle competition today, and what a gas it was! 1650 kids making massive sand castles, structures, piles and pits. One in fact was just a pit, and a couple of others were really just mounds bejewelled with baubles to suggest they were something else, but no matter! It was FUN! And then the kids started burying one another, too.

On which point one group made what was evidently a mass grave. 11703309_10207498344197167_342665137809777565_o

These were the kids from Khmer Rough Elementary in Benwell, apparently, and the teach showed me her earlier photo of them at work, quite an arty photo in its own right:

kids building the sandcastle

Some of the troupe might have been a bit too old though, preferring to stand around looking cool:

winning children

But everyone else had a ball!

There was the mayor in his garland of gold, there was a Punch and Judy regaling the children with the hilarity of domestic violence and infanticide.

It was a day of proper old school fun, nostalgia, even.