Thursday, July 17, 2008

Bear Nation

It was after this that I first heard a bear speak. It was Lydia. She was walking up and down by the fence making this noise. It is a unique and unmistakable sound, like a plaintive nasal cry, slightly wistful, slightly melancholic. The Latin name for bear is "Urs" and that is exactly the sound they make. "Ur?" It's a question. There's a questioning tone to it, like something you might ask of the mountains, of the wind. Something slightly sad. "Why have you left me, Ur? Where have you gone, Ur? Why do all us creatures have to die?" You can hear the peaks of the mountains in its voice. You can hear the breathing nearness of the wind. You can hear the echoes of the forest. You can hear the lonely miles of travel. You can hear mortality and loss.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

I Don't Write For Money I Write For Love

So, you have to ask, what is the difference between a professional writer and an amateur? The difference is that a professional writes for money, of course, and demands a proper rate of pay. This is reasonable enough you might say, and it's certainly true that I could do with being paid for some of the things I write. But the real truth is that most of these professional writers not writing for themselves. They write for an editor who works for a proprietor whose main purpose is to fill his paper with advertising. So in the end, most writers are writing for advertisers.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Riding With Lady Luck

I'd driven through the night, through the darkness and through the rain, hearing the squeak of the windshield wipers rubbing back and forth sluicing diamonds from the glass, watching the lights from in front and from behind, mile after mile of road in this great arc across a continent, sweeping though invisible landscapes and the shadows of mountains, like dark, unseen presences, through Germany and through Austria, through unknown borders between sleeping nations, through dreams and night time stirrings, through the first flickers of light on the horizon, the rising dawn, to this place - not even a name on a map - a toilet-stop in Hungary.

Mothers Club in Erdington

Mothers Club in Erdington, Birmingham, an early psychedelic music venue, opened on the 9th of August 1968 with a performance by Duke Sunny, and closed on the 3rd of January 1971, with a blockbusting three-band show by Quintessence, Stonehouse and Happy. The following is a personal record of that club, and that era....

Down in the Dumps

I was very, very nervous. Not so much at the prospect of any pain (I'd been assured it wasn't too painful) as at the humiliation of bending down to the scientific rigours of the medical establishment: being slapped on a table and pinned down like a specimen in a medical experiment, while they pumped alien substances into my back-passage, no doubt with the prime intention of blowing away the last vestiges of my human dignity.

As it happens, that's exactly what it was like.....

Strange Daze on Fantasy Island

In a sense Steve looks at the human life-form in exactly the same way. It is weird and fascinating to him. It is a sign of Life - the Big Life - that weaves and patterns its way through the world in all it's peculiar, variegated splendour. But he's not at all caught up in human self-promotion, or in the out-of-kilter human belief that only human things matter.

In other words, Steve just hasn't got the slightest notion about politics.

The Romance of Space

There was a great movie on Channel 4 recently, called In The Shadow of the Moon, about the Moon landings.

It contains archive footage of the nine missions that went to the Moon between 1968 and 1972, plus interviews with some of the guys who took part.

There's something about those men. A quality. A presence. A sense of wonder. It's as if, having stepped upon the surface of the Moon, having felt its gravitational embrace, they have left something of themselves back there which still speaks to them through all that distance of time and space.......

The Bard of Ely's Nature Conservation Site

Once he dyed his hair turquoise. That must have been a very strange sight, a lurching, bespectacled, purple-headed giant with a green beard, looking like something that had just stepped out of a flying saucer, just popped down to Earth to do some shopping at the local supermarket.....

How To Catch a Great Crested Newt

I have nothing against Ringed Plovers. I'm sure the Ringer Plover is a very nice bird. The one I saw seemed perfectly decent to me, hopping along by the stagnant pool, pecking amongst the pebbles, looking for grubs. And I'm glad for all the Ringed Plover in the world that there ARE still places where they can grub about in, as it were, grubbing up the grubs to get their daily grub....

What to do at the end of the World

One particular mystical-magical sect committed mass suicide. This seemed an illogical act to me. The end of the world means we're all going to die anyway, so why pre-empt it? Personally I'm glad I kept my options open and stayed alive.