Tuesday, 27 November 2012


tinkering stu has added some extra interest to his street corner bit of silvery voiding by going all ronseal: 

Monday, 26 November 2012

Je suis un bell-end? Mais non!

Those of us who have spent considerable amounts of time living abroad will be familiar with the concept of speaking a kind of simplified, slowed-down version of English. It can be an essential survival tool. You don't yet know the local lingo very well, even if you have the intention to learn it some time. You want to be able to do more than just order a coffee or say thanks to a waiter. Perhaps you even want to develop some real friendships with people who speak English much better than you'll ever speak their language but who couldn't handle your normal speed of speech and your usual use of colloquialisms. So you invent what some linguists would call an ideolect - a variety of language unique to you and your circumstances, manifested by very particular patterns of vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation. In the scenario being described here, it's all about simplification and clarity. This is perfectly normal and sensible. It's probably even instinctive and a somewhat subconscious process rather than something which is carefully planned.

It can also be habit-forming. So much so that some of us who have spent years speaking this way will recall how it can be a little disorientating to fly home and suddenly be surrounded by fellow native speakers of English. It can take a little while to get your chat back up to normal speed and to get back into using slang and less-than-crisp pronunciation.

If all of this is familiar to you, you will probably not remember consciously deciding to speak your simplified English in a kind of weird accent that borrows pronunciation features from your interlocutors' native tongue. So you will probably chuckle at the recollection of Shteve "wally with a brolly" McLaren's weirdly Dutch-accented English during press conferences during his first stint at FC Twente. If so, you'll be similarly amused by a more recent press conference on the European mainland - the one attended by Monsieur Joey Barton, still officially on the books at QPR but currently plying his trade with Olympique de Marseille. Seemingly channelling McLaren, football's most lovable rogue comes over a bit 'Allo 'Allo when analysing his Ligue 1 début:

Naturally, the gutter press and tweeters everywhere have rapidly piled in to mock the Scouse midfielder's "hilarious" accent. But while it's sometimes been hard for this blog to express unmixed affection for Barton, it's now difficult not to feel a little empathy for him. Casting the mind back to those days of developing a simplified ideolect for the benefit of Polish pals in lovely mid-90's Kraków (serious party town/era), perhaps it did involve the creation of a weird mishmash that would have sounded comical to fellow Brits. So, while the first reaction was to have a little pop at Joey, on reflection, the feeling now is one of something approaching admiration: he's clever enough to know he needs to grade his language a bit; he's heard enough French and enough English-spoken-by-French-people to have figured out some ways in which he might approach that process. Not every Englishman abroad is as mindful of the need to try to be understood. Certainly, what Barton is doing here is much better than that thing a lot of British tourists do on their travels, i.e. shouting and getting impatient when Pablo or Christos doesn't know what they're on about. 

Also to Barton's credit is the manner in which he's reacted to the ribbing directed towards him via Twitter. For a guy known to lash out (both physically and in words) when provoked, his reaction this time has been self-deprecating and good-humoured.

None of this is to suggest that this is my england would welcome Barton back into the Loftus Road fold without trepidation, should that be something that new Rangers supremo Harry Redknapp is considering. But it does provide food for thought and is a world away from the spiteful, unwise bullshit the player was spouting in the aftermath of his famous meltdown at the Etihad Stadium in May. At the time, it felt difficult not to classify the bloke as an unrepentant sinner and possible sociopath - an unredeemable waste of space who should never darken our doors again in London W12. Today, his much more pleasant reaction to a deluge of piss-taking suggests he might not be quite as bas as that. But that said, for some of us he's still a long way from being someone we'd want to have to depend on  as part of QPR's survival efforts.

U RRRRRRRRRRsssssssssss

oh joyous day, halloo kalay

stitched together a messy little bit of poesy ruddy ages ago - made up of bits 'n' pieces from there and there. there's a britney lyric, of all things, and all sorts of other detritus. some time after making it and putting it up here - sent it off to the good people of HAGGARD & HALLOO, an online and print publication based in Austin. Texas. these guys are PROLIFIC curators of stuff they deem to be creative and contemporary, publishing something new every day since 1999. 

anyhoo, the piece shuffled, finally, to the front of the queue and earlier this month it made it onto the Texans' site, albeit with the line breaks shot to hell, but that's really a minor thing. nice to see it there anyway and you may wanna look at the other stuff there.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Tuesday, 13 November 2012


my son was born on the 13th of november,
which falls on a tuesday this year.
you're not going to have a kids' party on a tuesday, right?
not in term time, right?
so we do it on the sunday, remembrance sunday of course and,
as ever, the role of jolly fellow is outsourced
to some grinning goon half my age
who gets on great with kids and whose
smile says you're a miserable prick.
this is at one of those bloody places:
you know, a unit on an small industrial estate:
soft indoor play equipment,
plenty of parking and
a coffee shop where the mums and dads
read their papers and
deal with
their email,
their hangovers,
the dullness of a cocaine comedown,
their caffè macchiato and
those hard, expensive little biscuits.

other people's children
and our child
what they do
at these places:
they slide down things,
they pretend to be zombies or
super mario or
sonic the hedgehog or
whatever and
as some young voice
shouts out this is my gun and
i'm going to shoot you,
old soldiers
and new soldiers
parade in braid
and bandages 
and pomp
and prosthetic limbs
to the sound of LADY GAGA
along whitehall
to the cenotaph,
with the commentators' words
mangled by the BBC's closed captioning
that can't keep up, so,
really i'm not making it up,
somewhere in the serious crowd
are some

and at the eleventh hour,
the music stops and
one of the FUNZONE goons
invites us
to join the two minutes' silence but
there's no such thing as silence in there,
and as I watch
men laying wreaths
(men who have ordered the bombing
of cities and villages
in full knowledge
of the infants
[collateral damage]
who will breathe their last
in the rubble
of their nursery schools and paediatric wards),
I fancy somewhere I can hear
my own son's voice,
i'm not your friend anymore!!!! and,
my great grandfather marches back
from the trenches of the GREAT WAR,
shelled into heavy-handedness,
knocking his children about (my grandmother,
my great aunt), slapping them
into pieces of vindictive shit
that take it out
on my dad,
who doesn't take it out
on me.

but when those devils from the playing fields of eton
sent market porters and stevedores
towards the mortars,
a pebble dropped
into the lives of every poor bugger's family
up and down the land and
the ripples
keep rippling,
ever fainter of course,
even now.

happy birthday to you,
squashed tomatoes and stew,
you look like a monkey,
and you live in the zoo.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

ripping the void

nothing lasts. stu knows this. his latest piece (the silver voiding of his long-term, outdoor Camden playspace [yes, it was him what done it]) has been ripped by some ripper: