The Boys Are Back in Cape Town

Oh, yes, England have qualified to the knockout stages. Phew. Didn’t look like the Three Lions had any claws for a while. They’d been so lousy up until now — no heart in the game (too much roast beef and not enough puddin’). Here are lauded some of the best players in the game, and they couldn’t even beat Algeria. But now, with the Scepter’d Isle on the line, they started playing some serious football, looking like they mean it.

I’m not a football fanatic or even a mild supporter, but this World Cup has drawn me in. I think it’s because there’s so much depressing news to rankle and raise one’s hackles about, it’s refreshing to get excited over a simple pleasure like a home team stomping out a rival team. It’s not even patriotism at work, it’s more a feeling of happiness, because competition between nations doesn’t mean confrontation with arms.

And it must be said, football is a real sport: it’s 90 minutes of hard action. Not like US football where it stalls every second for the minotaurs to adjust their groins. And baseball where the pajama boys wait on bases as if they’re expecting a bus.


The Lost Voice of Wales

And that would be Caradog Prichard. One Moonlit Night is a fantastic incantatory tale. I only wish I could have read it in Welsh — but my Welsh only goes as far as saying “mae cath yneistedd ar y mat.”

Pritchard’s dark storytelling is as good as Patrick Suskind and his hallucinatory language as good as Master Calvino.

The story is set in rural Wales during WWI and is narrated from a child’s POV who is grappling with his self and the madness that is taking over his mother. It’s brutal and funny, haunting and sensuous, and reads more like a fugitive collection of episodes than a tightly-bound novel with a clear ending — the ending is more of an unsettling fox’s cry than the plaintive note of a blackbird.

The writing is so vivid and the texture of the mother’s mental breakdown creeps up and builds in the narrative with a dizzying cadence along with the growing concerns of the son. And the tension between the mother’s loss of consciousness and the son’s mad scrabble to be aware of his mother’s losing battle is beautifully rendered by Pritchard. As Pritchard increases his poetical voice, it’s as if he’s trying to escape the madness himself, only he’s drawing a reader further in, guiding them, like Virgil, into the book’s inferno of passion and loss and the rural ecstasy of a long dead idyllic Wales.

And Pritchard certainly lives up to this: “A writer more concerned with oddities in language and aberrant states of consciousness than with creating naturalistic scenes and plausible dialogue.”

Axiom for the month: Life should be enjoyed while you have it, not slaved away until it’s gone.

Once Upon A Life

Do you ever get the feeling that it’s all about the cosy, feel-good fakery now, all about money masquerading as being about You (who is not an individual but a consumer buying more things that he or she doens’t need), the You that wants that Starbucks coffee, that name-brand shoe, that all-the-rave car that runs on oil that’s spewing into the ocean and killing and destroying, that sports team that makes you more of a player in life but not a free thinker, that processed, pesticide-doused food that’s a cheap meal for a cheap world instead of a small, farm-raised, caring and responsible food choice that could actually make us healthier and happier?

Uncut, Unvarnished, Unshaven

I just got wet going to the post office. Which is the extent of my degenerate output today.

I want an iPad. Even dreamt of one: I was a Welsh outlaw and it was hunting me, going to bring me into the 21st-cent, lock me up in the prison of the Web’s mind, hang me from the Internet by my loose thread of knowledge.

You know how people (the really lonely ones) always ask what would you do with a million dollars? Well, I’d spend it.

I love tea. Love it in the morning, afternoon, and night. It’s better than a lover. Such stamina is unheard of in trysts. Unless it’s in movies or fiction.

I love this that Winterson writes: “What is the point of being human if you cannot live your own life in your way?” That’s a bloody good question and one I am out to answer. Every person should have this twittering around their brains rather than texting nonsense to each other.

The Secret Life of the Brain

I like using my imaginative, deep trolling brain that loves that uninterrupted concentration like Rodin’s The Thinker.

But I hear that kind of brain is soon to become an endangered species. It is going to be replaced with the Internet Brain, a soft organ that consists of three parts: Google, Facebook, and Wireless. It may even add on an app called Thinking, if we have the time, which is unlikely.

Our brains are leading a secret life, it seems. One in which we hardly figure. And if we do, it will just be to text a message or surf the Web for similar brains doing nothing.

We all know, or have been told, that the Web is the font of all human knowledge, a huge supercomputer of interconnected human beings all crying out, “Dave, my mind is going. I can feel it. I can feel it.”

So I am not alone. Because I can feel that old brain wandering off to the savanna of the Web where it can graze for hours without ever having to worry about an original thought pouncing up on it or ever running out of fodder — ever.

Of course this makes all our brains more democratic as we are wired into this Brave New World of information, awash in its virtual glow, made smarter by its billion stars of binary wizardry.

And, yet, I read a book and feel like the whole world has come to me.

Funny, that. I guess I just might have taken my brain back for a bit.

Which reminds me, that Internet Brain is only on loan. After the Web’s done with it, we still have to live with it.

It’s not like we can trade it in for a newer model. At least not yet.

Currently thinking about reading: The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr.

What’s A Verb Got to Do With It?

If someone asked me what my favourite verb is, I would reply, “Make.”

Why? Easy. It’s the creative verb: We make love, make dinner, make babies, make drinks, make friends, make sense, make up stories.

Besides the first, I’m partial to the last.

And that’s why I have a hard time with works of realism. If I want slices and mirror-like images of the life around me, all I have to do is get out in the world, take a long hard look, and occasionally waste my time on the Internet reading the news.

But if I want to build on my relationships with others, with my self, with the world, with my fears, my dreams, then I want a book. A story that’s made up of the fantastical, the absurd, the imagination that takes centre stage and isn’t left to pout in the margins.

So make my day and make it fantastic.

Interesting fact: The Poet Laureate Alfred Lord Tennyson liked to entertain guests by doing impersonations of someone going to the lavatory.

Listening to:

Speaking in Tongues by the Talking Heads.

9 by PIL.

Sleep No More by the Comsat Angels

XX by XX.

Up the Junction

Jesus, that oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is a disaster. I mean really. The biggest oil spill in American history I keep getting told by each and every news broadcast.

Why doesn’t someone, preferably gorgeous, with big tits, and a gleaming smile of perfect teeth, stand up on a pair of fancy high heels and say, “Listen, when it comes to oil, we’ve like, you know, sucked the rich cream milkshake down so that now we’re only making those sucking sounds.”

You know what we need to do for alternative energy? Dead bodies. Instead of leaving your body to science, it should become legislative law that you have to leave your body for a safer, greener energy.

I mean, come on, couldn’t we engineer engines to run off our bodily fluids and heat our homes with all the energy that is stored in our bodies?

Isn’t there a huge amount of energy stored in a single cell in our body? Surely scientists could find ways to harness the energy out of a dead body.

And there should be no moral qualms because everyone involved would be dead.