messages from the past for the future

  Sitting down to write this, a month after breaking my leg and having to grapple with hitherto-unconsidered questions like ‘how do I usually sit on a toilet’? and one week before a General Election where my preferred of the apparently plausible outcomes is an…

A Conflict of Ghosts

  2019 is (to me at least) one of those times when the zeitgeist feels like an actual entity, less the ‘spirit of the age’ and more an actual ‘time ghost’, a baleful Lovecraftian presence whose unseen influence poisons the atmosphere of the era, insidiously…

birds & murderers; raptorama

As I write these words it’s the first day of summer and I’m sitting in my study (sounds pompous, but ‘room full of books and records where I work’ is less economical), with Atom Heart Mother playing, looking out at a beautiful sky of quilted dove-grey clouds…

Believing in Them – old books, old eyes, new readings

  In Richard Linklater’s reputedly anti-nostalgic, but actually still quite nostalgic 1993 film Dazed and Confused, Matthew McConaughey’s Fonz-like character Wooderson articulates his Fonzhood in a way that – as far as I remember – the actual Fonz never does*: “That’s what I love about…

‘Cheryl Heard A Wet Thud’: Tread Softly by Richard Kelly

  There’s a moment in Peter Bagge’s immortal Generation X soap opera comicbook Hate¹ where a character says “That need to reclaim a dusty corner of your youth can be overwhelming at times” and even when I first read that in my late 20s, the truth of…

11 June 1936: The International Surrealist Exhibition

Thursday, June 11th, 1936. Ominous context; the previous week, Mussolini had authorised his troops to kill prisoners taken in the war that followed Italy’s invasion of Ethiopia. Shortly thereafter, Haile Selassie, Emperor in exile, would appeal to the League of Nations against the Fascists, but…

The Dead Cannot Contradict: R.I.P. M.E.S. 1957 – 2018

There have been a lot of obituaries for the great Mark E. Smith in the last week. This will not be one of the better ones, but it is my one. In my experience, the bands you love in your teens are, although they have…