Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Old friends. New times.
Last week was magical. Ending yesterday, I had a visit from Patrick, a great friend of mine, who I met at university in Aberdeen. We were sitting in a seminar one day and started to talk. I can't remember what about; it wasn't anything special. Then, slowly, we started talking more often, and more deeply, and within weeks each had discovered that the other was a writer. That really kick-started things. Then, as we got to know each other more, I relaxed into my usual quirky self, Patrick relaxed into his slightly less quirky and more grounded self, and we had ourselves a friendship.

Summer came and went, and everyone was back at Aberdeen once more. Walking through the students' union in Fresher's Week, I bumped into Patrick again. He was sitting behind the desk of the Creative Writing Society. Not joining up again wasn't an option - in fact I can't even remember if there was a Creative Writing Society or whether I was a member of it during my 3rd year. Anyway.

So began a year of magic. Short stories, poetry, the intimate cosy and often frustrating sharing and development thereof. Nights of toil, pleasantly lubricated with Guinness, upstairs in the Red Lion. Nights of warmth, protected from the cold outside by the roaring fire of the Illicit Still. Nights of dinner, and films. Nights of conversation. Nights getting to know newer people: Anita, Steph, Lara, Iain... I write these names not because you'll have the faintest who I'm on about. (Although you may, someday.) I write these names, - and leave out many more! - because these people were the stars, asteroids, and black holes I orbited around that year.

Those nights, and days, with them. Nights of debauchery in Club 2000. Nights when everything was too beautiful, or too involved, to meet anyone else, and you kept in touch by phone. (One of those, a bitter, ice-slicked, snow-filled night in the park, I went back home and wrote. It was too much to talk about.) And days and nights spent travelling. Travelling to Edinburgh, to the countryside, to other towns. Travelling with writers through Scotland in the middle of winter, ending up in a cosy hostel on the Isle of Skye. All freezing white and silver in the day. All warm dark and star-flecked at night, sliding by slowly with glasses of amber fire. Travelling, also, to Edinburgh, a magical, cathartic, escapist's city - where Patrick and others were to settle later.

And then, slowly, things wound down and stopped. It was the end of university, of course. The end, certainly, of an era. We all knew, those of us who thought and wrote and spent time together, that the luxury of living so closely entwined and surrounded by academia and mental rigour, would change things. Might damage things. Not between us, but creatively. It didn't. But it could have.

And if there's one thing I take away from Patrick's visit, aside from the renewed covenant of friendship, it's this. It's never too late to remember what you loved. It's never too late to reclaim what keeps you alive. Essentially: I swear to fuck I'm gonna write more! :oD

Sunday, July 13, 2003

What the....?!?!
Holy. Fucking. Shit!!! I've seen some internal memos in my time. This one disgusts me more than I can say. Fucking tossers. Fucking tossers!
Germaine Greer wants him...
You like him, Germaine. You really, really like him. :o)

She's serious, too. In an interview with a TV presenter, to publicise a forthcoming book full of glossy photos of nubile young boymen, she said: "Well, I'd like to reclaim for women the right to appreciate the short-lived beauty of boys, real boys, not simpering 30-year-olds with shaved chests." This article is scathing:

Once you get over the hypocrisy of the godmother of 1970s feminism salivating over boys as sex objects, you are left with the fact that Greer is using the language of pedophiles.

However, another article is more down-to-earth:

Greer, 63, says 'The Boy', which looks at male children in Western art, is about reclaiming the right of women to enjoy the beauty of boys. "Everyone thinks the only people who like looking at pictures of boys - and I mean boys, not men - are gay men but that's not true. I, for one, love looking at them," Greer told British newspaper the Daily Express.

She's not the only one. I thought. But I'm a bit confused. I like boys, boyz, y'know? By which I mean: men. But she actually means *boys*. Or does she?

I hope she makes clear in her book what boys are and what men are, and when they stop being boys and start being men. If she's talking about photography and art, an age-limit won't cut the mustard. Let's say androgynous, with a patina of 'the child' over them, then. Good enough definition? Maybe. Oh, no, I'm wrong: asked on Canadian television what attracted her to "boys" rather than men, she said: "Sperm that runs like tap water will do." But I'd always thought that a boy stopped being a boy when he was sexually mature.


I'm not knocking the woman. But there is something slightly hilarious about the most loudly militant feminist of her era saying, "I like boys. No, sorry, I *like* *boys*." Why, Germaine? Because they're not men yet? Hehe. :o)
Tired of getting stuck into Tony Blair?
Want to display your considered (if largely fake and posturing) indifference to the shady mechanics of how the war in Iraq was won? Want to stop getting stuck into people for the sake of it, and start concentrating on the big issue that Saddam is gone? Here's how: just get stuck into someone else! Someone nobody would ever have thought you'd attack. After all, there must be a reason you'd do that, right?

How many Iraqis has Robin Cook killed? Not by the favoured Baath Party means of feeding them into plastic shredders or gassing them in their villages, but indirectly through the policies he endorsed? It's hard to be precise - the body counters in Saddam's Iraq always needed more time - but the death toll must run into five figures and hits six if you believe the more gruesome claims about the effects of the sanctions he enforced.

And so Nick Cohen takes a running jump at Robin Cook. And then, inexplicably, moves away for the rest of his article to tell the story of sanctions against Iraq. The sanctions were Bad Things, he tells us. True. They killed people. True. Saddam was still able to torture people and carry on his disgusting tenure even though sanctions were in place. True.

Cohen's comment comes down to this: Robin Cook was Foreign Secretary at the time the sanctions were put in place by the agreement of the UN; the sanctions were wrong; a dictator can carry on with sanctions in place. But he never comes up with an alternative. Content with naming a political celebrity, he launches into a mix of imcomplete narrative and a hash of an argument, and never reaches a conclusion.

The standfirst? "Quick to damn others, Robin Cook is lamentably slow to accept his part in the deaths of many Iraqis". Hehe. Might I suggest a revision? "Quick to damn others, Nick Cohen is lamentably slow to accept his part in an incoherent, posturing op-ed piece".
So you decide...
...to climb this mountain. You know that previous activity has been fairly non-existent, and you're safe. Suddenly it starts exploding around you. These volcano eruption videos really are amazing, and the site includes photos, videos and other info about what else you find around an erupting volcano: ice, coloured clouds, and, most bizarrely, smoke rings. (Similar to one observed in America last week, when a bolt of lightning left a smoke ring in the sky.)

And here is an article about republished adult novel The Summer Book by Tove Jansson, who also wrote the Moomins stories for children (*and* adults).

Thank god for weekly James Fenton, courtesy of Guardian Review. This week, the art of lighting a painting.

Friday, July 11, 2003

Plates and trinkets more important. . .
...than charities which are trying to mediate against atrocious situations around the world? Apparently so. The Princess Diana Memorial Fund, which distributes millions of pounds of aid to charities she favoured, the money having been donated by people all over the world, has been sued by a collectables company.

It sued the Fund because the Fund originally sued it over its decision to use the Princess's image on plates, dishes, etc. etc. without permission, and considers that nobody can get away with such a frivolous and wrongful use of law. *cough cough*

And apparently it's absolutely *not* in it for the money.

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Weapons? Pah.
Topical picture of the day. Share it with people you want to confuse. :o)
Well, here we are
Again. Nothing much changing. Except this post is made with Mozilla and I just wanna see if it works. So there.
The post was actually crappily formatted, so I'm back to using w.bloggar.

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Lemon Jelly
I was just reminded of this by Patrick's blog, but Lemon Jelly's new album (here, if you wanna buy it) is wonderful, and wonderful as all the tracks are, my favourite is Ramblin' Man. Don't you dare Kazaa this either, you bastards. BUY it. :o)
Eminem's Power...
...increases, as Seamus Heaney applauds the rapper's verbal energy. In fact, I remember thinking when I saw 8 Mile that whether or not his rapping in the film was scripted, it should have been nominated for some linguistic award. So I'm in agreement with Heaney - a bit shocked at the picture of a Nobel Laureate praising a rapper though!, but not surprised in the least that Heaney would admire his work. What do you think?