September, September….

 

The anniversary of 9/11 is as good a day as any to listen again to Arundhati Roy’s ‘Come September’ speech from 2002.  As relevant and as moving today as it was ten years ago.

 

Advertisements

A Gift, From Me To You.

A conversation I was having with a chap on Twitter this evening inspired me to make a list of 5 books that I think you may enjoy.  Books that I love and treasure, and ones that I think everyone should love and treasure.  Call it a wee gift, from me to you.  They are in no particular order, though the first book is the one I recommended on Twitter this evening, and the one that prompted this post.  I hope you enjoy them.  This may, or may not, become a regular feature.

Fup, by Jim Dodge.
Fup, is quite simply a wonderful little book.  It has a duck, a boar, a gentle giant making fences, and an immortal grandfather who spends his days distilling Ole Death Whisper whiskey.  I first read this book on the train between Glasgow Central and Wemyss Bay, and devoured it in less than 45 minutes.  It’s a book I haven’t read in a while due to giving all my copies away – they don’t come back – but it still has me smiling like a loon just thinking about it.

Sombrero Fallout, by Richard Brautigan.
Richard Brautigan is one of my very favourite authors.  I think it is tragic he is seemingly not very well known.  Sombrero Fallout is unlike anything you will have ever read.  It is surreal, absurd, profound, concise, bittersweet, and quite beautiful.  It is the tale of a writer’s lost love, and of an ice cold sombrero that falls to earth bringing chaos to a small town in America.  Brautigan has a style all of his own, short sentences that deserve to be read out loud for the pleasure they bring as they trip off the tongue.   All of his books are fabulous, but this is my personal favourite.

The Good Fairies Of New York, by Martin Millar.
This is a book that took me by surprise.  It was sent to me by a good friend of mine in Scotland, a guy who I would think the last person to recommend fairy stories.  But this is a fairy story with a difference.  It’s a story about two kilted, punk fairies on the run from their clans in the UK, who end up in New York.  There is sex, drugs, rock’n’roll, fighting, and more crazy fairies than you can shake a stick at.   With one of the most memorable opening pages I have ever read, this is another book that made me laugh out loud, a lot.

Slaughterhouse 5, by Kurt Vonnegut.
Kurt Vonnegut is quite possibly my favourite writer, and Slaughterhouse 5 is probably his most famous book.  It is a satirical black comedy, with a dash of sci-fi, and personal memoir thrown in.  It is ostensibly about Vonnegut’s experiences as a prisoner of war in Dresden at the end of World War Two, but it is also very much more than that.  This is a book both funny and disturbing, horrific and humane, serious and surreal, which should be required reading for armchair generals everywhere.

Hunger, Knut Hamsun.
This is an incredibly intense and powerful book about the travails of a desperately poor writer trying to make enough money from day to day in order to live.  Rarely have I had such an emotional involvement in a character.  Here is man who’s pride leads him to the very edge of starvation, a starvation that is somehow made palpable for the reader.  The test of a good book, for me, is in it’s memorability.  I have only read this book once, about ten years ago, an ex-girlfriend has my copy, and I can still remember the emotional rollercoaster it put me on as if it was yesterday.  And by no means is this an irredeemably bleak book, it has many humorous episodes too.

Scotland 0, Serbia 0 (a Doombar Laden Reflection)

It’s no fun being Scottish and a follower of the national football team.  We’re crap, and we know we are.

The national affliction is hope, it is what kills us, every single time. And just like my love life, it is a glorious failure, snatched from the jaws of victory.

The game today was a case in point.

Before the match today I read in the Scottish papers that our experience had made us stronger.   We had learned from our defeats, and we had an “embarrassment of riches” with which to clinch success.  Optimism rode high, after decades of failures, this time it would be different.  We were destined for the Promised Land.

The game started.

Apprehensive from the off, the superior opposition showed it’s class from the start.  It took time for us to be confident in this kind of company, even with a full house brimming with belief.

Serbia settled quickly, and we struggled to get going.  There was the odd memorable flourish, enough to get the hopes up, but no consistency.  The pre-match promises failed to materialise.

I spent a lot of the match biting my nails, clinging to hope.

The crowd waited patiently for the players to get us excited.  It happened in fits and starts, only to fizzle out in disappointment.

Hope turns to despair.

We try again against Macedonia on Tuesday.  Hope springs eternal.  It’ll be the bloody death of me…

On Being An Arse, And A Bastard.

Yet again my intentions have been sidelined by my wandering and distracted mind.  I was full of the intention to write my tuppence worth on the whole Julian Assange saga, but then my own woman-related problems derailed my train  of thought.  And so, before I write anything of any substance on anything of real interest, I need to try and exorcise the demons that plague me.  Some hope!

I currently find myself in a rather depressing unrequited love triangle.  While I am forlornly trying to come to terms with the fact that the object of my desire does not feel the same way about me, I am also the object of another’s desire.  I am in the curious position of being both heartbreaker and heartbreakee.  And it is not a position I would recommend to anyone.  It is thoroughly unpleasant all round, let me tell you.

I had lunch today with the source of my romantic crucifixion.   It was quite possibly the least pleasant time I have ever had in her company in all the years I have known her.  Bless her, she tried her best to make me feel better, even buying me painkillers for my toothache, but nothing can soothe the dull ache of her loss.  She told me once that when I meet someone else I will forget her.  Which only makes me think that is what she thinks will happen when she meets someone else – I shall be forgotten.  Obviously, this thought does not cheer me much.  I am left with the certain knowledge that she is the one that got away, and I will live the rest of my life knowing that.  Knowing also, that the cause of the problems between us were largely of my  making, doesn’t help me feel better either.   You know, I used to have a half decent opinion of myself before this, now I am left thinking I’m a complete arse.

And I must be a complete arse.  Women like that do not fall from trees.   When I think of the opportunities I had, all I can do is shake my head sadly and say “John, you are an arse.”

And then there is the desire projected at me, from another lass.  But I am in no position to return it, my mind being elsewhere, with someone else.  Which likely makes me a bit of a bastard to her.

So I am an arse and a bastard.  Quite possibly the saddest and most despondent arse and bastard this side of Christendom.

Somebody cheer me up….

Stepping On The Cracks.

I while away my time these days,
With bandages and pills.
But nothing ever soothes away,
The pain that lingers still.

She haunts me in the afternoon,
She haunts me in the night.
But “Lordy!” she thinks that I’m a loon,
And probably she’s right.

So please be kind while I’m a mess,
Or until I’m back on track.
My heart is under some duress,
And she’s stepping on the cracks…..

By me.  17/8/2012.