Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Alain - Can I Make A Suggestion?

We spend most of our waking lives at work - in occupations often chosen by our unthinking sixteen-year-old selves. And yet we rarely ask ourselves how we got there or what it might mean for us. Equally intrigued by work's pleasures and its pains, Alain de Botton here heads out into the under-charted worlds of the office, the factory, the fishing fleet and the logistics centre, ears and eyes open to the beauty, interest and sheer strangeness of the modern workplace.

Along the way he tries to answer some of the most urgent questions we can ask about work: Why do we do it? What makes it pleasurable? What is its meaning? And why do we daily exhaust not only ourselves but also the planet? Characteristically lucid, witty and inventive, Alain de Botton's 'song for occupations' is a celebration and exploration of an aspect of life which is all too often ignored and yet as central to us as our love lives.

So I'm idly chatting to adam and I say "Oh, I've found another reason to hate Alain de Botton".

"Yeah?" he says.

"Yeah, he has a 2 million quid trust fund he hasn't touched." I say.

"200 million you mean..." says adam before reaching for the bucket of water we keep under the hole in our ceiling.

I wake up dripping and swear for a while. Then we both swear. Then we swear some more with added brutal fantasy elements.

The consolations of philosophy eh? Well I think 200 million quid in the background would help me to sleep. Shucks, I might even splash out on a waterbed. Think of the number of mosquito nets you could buy for 200 million quid. 40 million mosquito nets.

Monday, March 30, 2009

These e-mails prove one thing - Globalisation has made no difference - There's still one born every minute...

Dear Sir or Madam,

The first and only Sri Lankan Shipping Guide named “Guide to Sri Lanka Ports & Shipping” published by Shiplink International (Pvt) Ltd. is now available for sale in Sri Lanka and any other foreign country. A valuable guide in terms of educational and knowledgeable with a directory of the most establishments and companies engaged in Ports, Shipping, Cargo and Logistic trades are listed in this guide.

Ideal for business use, as a gift to personnel who are engaged in Logistic trade and for those who want to study the Sri Lankan Ports, Shipping, Cargo and Logistic trades, this prestigious guide is the only of its kind in Sri Lanka. Priced at US$ 25.00 in Sri Lanka and shipping rates are applicable when delivering to foreign countries.

You can log on to our web site www.shiplink.lk directly or SHIPLINK SRI LANKA of www.shiplink.asia and click on the “Guide to Sri Lanka Ports & Shipping” icon or text details on the home page for more information. You can also see the contents of the guide by clicking the “CONTENTS” icon on the bottom of the page.

We can offer you the attractive sales rebates up to 50% depending on your order. The delivery is free of charge within Sri Lanka.

You can forward your inquiries using the inquiry form on the bottom of http://www.shiplink.lk/gsps page or our email info@shiplink.lk .

Thank you,

Awaiting your precious order.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

This looks interesting

Spike Jonze does Where the Wild Things Are and what looks like refreshingly free of CGI creatures...

Thursday, March 26, 2009


And I came to a ravine, a sudden space where the trees plunged and the air shimmered with reflected light. Breathing deep and slow the blood calmed until I could listen. These woods at night, creaking. I took a few steps forward, just beyond the edge, but the ground fell away steeply into the dark and there were so many grasping roots, so many branches feeling for my feet that I knew I would trip and fall within moments. Then I saw the shape of it, criss crossing the emptiness, a bridge - from one side to the other...

We've just had our rates bill for 2009/10

I can just picture the conversation at the council:

'So, revenues down. Wass that all abaht then?'

'Must be this credit crunch business thingy, guv. All them empty shops an' that goin' aht of business'

'Wot we gonna do abaht it then?'

'Dunno. Need more money'

'Well, obviously all those business that have survived have dun alright, innit. We can tap them up for some moolah, can't we'

'Fackin' brilliant idea, guv! Those shops must be swimmin' in it. 'Nother couple of grand won't hurt 'em'

'Get the presses rollin' Tompkins, we're sweet!'

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Change for the sake of Change

Matthew always liked the '2 dudes' pic we used on the first website...

...so here it is in its full monochrome glory on a new stylee website page...

...it's been a quiet saturday...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Doctor! My intestines are escaping (too much information alert)

My name is Matthew Crockatt and I have a Hernia. Maybe two. That means my intestines are trying to escape into the space my testicles vacated when I was a little boy. Through a tear. Yeah - that's nasty isn't it?

I went to the Camberwell Green surgery early so that I could still take Finn to nursery and get myself to work on time. I said I didn't care which Doctor I saw so long as he had the shortest queue and they said a name and told me to go up to the first floor. Up I went, found the name on the door and walked right in. A rather surprised man looked round.

"Morning mate. I think..."

"Are you a patient?"

"Er, yes. Are you a Doctor?"

"Yes, but surgery hasn't started yet."

It's a while since I visited a Doctor so I totally mangled the etiquette. Sat with a selection of the Living Dead for a few minutes reading The Ginger Man until a brisk "Mr Crockatt" summoned me back. I told him I thought I had a hernia and that I knew this because I had a friend who was a Doctor and...

The Doctor was pointing at his bed. I took off my jacket and lay down.

"Please stand up Mr Crockatt"

I stood up. I opened the top button of my jeans and pulled my boxers down a little way.

"The bulge is here"

"I'm afraid you're going to have to be a little less shy Mr Crockatt. I need to see the whole, er, architecture of the area."

And so my trousers are on the floor round my ankles and I'm letting it all hang loose. (Architecture?) It's at this point that I realise the last time I saw this man he was feeling my wife's breasts. Yup, she had a nasty case of Mastitis when Finn was tiny and the same man diagnosed it and sorted it. Mixed feelings I suppose. On the one hand I was thinking "Good - he was right last time" on the other I was thinking "Hmmm, so now you have intimate knowledge of the intimate parts of me and my wife. There are hardly any people with that knowledge."

I was going to put a picture of a Hernia here but they are all so gross I can't handle it.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Police! Response!

Random nutter with blood pouring down his head starts screaming and kicking stuff on the marsh - 'I Want To Die!!!' he says - within 90 seconds we have 4 police cars and 2 police vans attending the scene. Awesome!! This is what I pay my friggin' taxes for!

A light at the end of the tunnell...

Leake Street circa 1805 was a little lane lined with trees.

Leake Street 2009 is a piss-stained showcase for "urban art" - ie middle aged white blokes in advertising spraying the most boring and reactionary style graffiti you can imagine over similar crap some other dullard painted the week before.

This morning I dropped Finn off at nursery before wandering along the sunshine soaked South Bank. Then into the darkness of the tunnel under the station that is Leake Street where I was amazed to hear the tinkling of a piano. Piped classical music. Our patch of Waterloo is pretty much in the geographical centre of London. The video above suggests Leake Street might just be the centre of the Vortex - where the myriad clashing identities of our great metropolis are sucked to before being pumped back into circulation.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

And another thing...

More Bolano!

Bring it on baby...

A sixth part to 2666 and everything. That's going to make my US slip-cased paperbacks even rarer and more valuable. Will probably have to put bars on the windows and install machinegun linked CCTV to keep the literary vagabonds at bay now.

My "er" son

Can I refer those caught up in the Myerson debate to Robert Stone's autobiography Prime Green in which he confesses to inhaling Nitrous Oxide with his primary school age children...

Now that's questionable parenting!

Bargain Hunters - Don't Go In The Cellar

Her: I am looking for a particular book.

Me: What is it?

Her: Erm...(Consults notebook) Venus in Furs by...

Me: We should have that in stock. (I look under M - I look under V - I find it under S)

Her: How much is it?

Me: It should say on the back there...£8.99 maybe? £7.99

Her: £7.99 Jeez that's a lot.

Me: Hmmm.

Her: It's £6.99 in Wastrones...

Me: Is the walk worth a quid?

Her: Yes, I think it is - goodbye. (Mutters) I was hoping for a bargain.

Me: Would you step into our dungeon where a team of vertically challanged sadists will abuse you for your pleasure?

The last bit is made up. The rest is true!

Chewing Gum - Thanks Richard...

It's Brautigan so semi-insane, but it's chewing gum....

Richard Brautigan - Halloween In Denver

She didn't think that she would get any trick or treaters, so she didn't
buy anything for them. That seems simple enough, doesn't it? Well, let's
see what can happen with that. It might be interesting.

We'll start off with me reacting to her diagnosis of the situation by
saying, "Hell, get something for the kids. After all, you're living on
Telegraph Hill and there are a lot of kids in the neighborhood and some
of them are certain to stop here."

I said it in such a way that she went down to the store and came back a
few minutes later with a carton of gum. The gum was in little boxes
called Chiclets and there were a lot of them in the carton.

"Satisfied?" she said.
She's an Aires.
"Yes," I said.
I'm an Aquarius.
We also had two pumpkins: both Scorpios.

So I sat there at the kitchen table and carved a pumpkin. It was the
first pumpkin that I had carved in many years. It was kind of fun. My
pumpkin had one round eye and one triangular eye and a not-very-bright
witchy smile.

She cooked a wonderful dinner of sweet red cabbage and sausages and had
some apples baking in the oven.

Then she carved her pumpkin while dinner was cooking beautifully away.
Her pumpkin looked very modernistic when she was through. It looked more
like an appliance than a jack-o'-lantern.

All the time that we were carving pumpkins the door bell did not ring
once. It was completely empty of trick or treaters, but I did not panic,
though there were an awful lot of Chiclets waiting anxiously in a large

We had dinner at 7:30 and it was so good. Then the meal was eaten and
there were still no trick or treaters and it was after eight and things
were starting to look bad. I was getting nervous.

I began to think that it was every day except Halloween.

She of course looked beatifically down upon the scene with an aura of
Buddhistic innocence and carefully did not mention the fact that no
trick or treaters had darkened the door.

That did not make things any better.

At nine o'clock we went in and lay down upon her bed and we were talking
about this and that and I was in a kind of outrage because we had been
forsaken by all trick or treaters, and I said something like, "Where are
those little bastards?"

I had moved the bowl of Chiclets into the bedroom, so I could get to the
trick or treaters faster when the door bell rang. The bowl sat there
despondently on a table beside the bed. It was a very lonely sight.

At 9:30 we started fucking.

About fifty-four seconds later we heard a band of kids come running up
the stairs accompanied by a cyclone of Halloween shrieking and mad door
bell ringing.

I looked down at her and she looked up at me and our eyes met in
laughter, but it wasn't too loud because suddenly we weren't at home.

We were in Denver, holding hands at a street corner, waiting for the
light to change.

from Revenge of the Lawn 1971

Monday, March 09, 2009

Them's fightin' words for a monday

'I know how it feels to expect to get a fair shake
But they won't let you forget
That you're the underdog and you've got to be twice as good'

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The Kindly Ones

The book is out and here comes the controversy...

At this point I would like to refer the reader to another 1000pager Roberto Bolano's 2666 in which the following passage can be found:

"The Bremen German literature conference was highly eventful. Pelletier, backed by Morini and Espinoza, went on the attack like Napoleon at Jena, assaulting the unsuspecting German Archimboldi scholars, and the downed flags of Pohl, Schwarz, and Borchmeyer were soon routed to the cafes and taverns of Bremen. The young German professors participating in the evnt were bewildered at first and then took the side of Pelletier and his friends, albeit cautiously. The audience, consisting mostly of university students who had travelled from Gottingen by train or in vans, was also won over by Pelletier's fiery and uncompromising interpretations, throwing caution to the winds and enthusiastically yielding to the festive, Dionysian vision of ultimate carnival (or penultimate carnival) exegesis upheld by Pelletier and Espinoza. Two days later, Schwarz and his minions counterattacked. They compared Archimboldi to Gunter Grass. They spoke of suffering. They compared Archimboldi to Friedrich Durrenmatt and spoke of humour, which seemed to Morini the height of gall. Then Liz Norton appeared, heavensent, and demolished the counterattack like a Desaix, like a Lannes, a blond Amazon who spoke excellent German, if anything too rapidly, and who expounded on Grimmelhausen and Gryphius and many others, including Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim, better known as Paracelsus."

I have a strange sense of humour. Some would argue that I just don't have a sense of humour. Others might say I laugh at my own jokes a bit too much. But I found this passage very amusing...I also find critics of literature in general rather amusing - especially when they are upset. So I'm enjoying reading the critical responses to The Kindly Ones and would advise you not to take the critics too seriously.

As a reader I found that the book rewarded my efforts and was certainly worth reading. I felt I learned a thing or two and I was jolted from some comfy/lazy intellectual positions.

In a nutshell?

Read it and weep.