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How about if we used working in a restaurant over christmas as a package deal for a corporate team building exercise?

I'm serious, Christmas is biting hard and I'm trying desperately to think of ways to keep myself from going mad. It was in the middle of service last night, when dealing with a particularly obnoxious Christmas party (who I am perfectly happy to name as the staff of Ormskirk Specsavers. An obnoxious and zero-tipping bunch of fuckwads, who wouldn't pass plates that I palpably couldn't reach until I shouted "Go go gadget arms!" at them. And a special note for the girl in the maroon halter neck top. I do not fancy you. None of my staff fancy you. and I don't care if you get your breasts out or not I'm not going to serve you past last orders) when my big new idea hit.

It's so easy. Take one fractious and bickering corporate body and, instead of all that white-water rafting or paintballing nonsense send them to me for the festive season. The relentless nights of squalling dimwitted christams partyers, the heat, the noise, the overcoming of adversity by…

Hi

Well, since (successful) conclusion of NaNoWriMo I have had no desire to glance even slightly at a computer screen, hence lack of blog updates. It's all over now though, and Christmas is upon us, so I will need to vent, thus:

I'M BACK, BABY!

And what a shitfest the last couple of weeks or so have been. Work has descended into a maelstrom of decorations, festive records and pissed office parties (I have been asked twice in the LAST WEEK whether or not we can "do a pizza, cos I don't like anything on the menu" on both occasions I have pointed them in the direction of the kebab shop over the road). 'Tis also the season to chase cokeheads out of the toilet REPEATEDLY (though I hit upon the idea a couple of days ago of wiping the top of the cistern with chilli oil at the start of each shift, and that seems to have done the trick). The manager's gone a bit mad (in the same way that Rasputin was a bit of an eccentric), and I'm left trying to jolly a demorali…

So this is what being trapped under a large rock feels like

apologies for infrequency of blogging. NaNoWriMo is eating my life. 18,000 down, 32,000 to go. Luckily I'm within striking distance of twenty thou, the point at which it becomes harder to give up, and waste all that effort, than keep going.

I'm learning a lot about novel-writing as well. So it's a positive experience. A lot about the nuts and bolts of pacing, structure, characterisation. all the stuff us poets never bother with.

And no, you can't read it. It's fucking terrible.

Up and running

God help me, it's November so it must be NaNoWriMo, my annual exercise in novel-writing masochism. I am, in fact, off to a flier this year and already well ahead of word count, which is pretty good. The great thing about NaNo is the purpose it serves at blasting away writer's block (which, with about three different deadlines currently hanging over my head, is no bad thing), the terrible thing about it is the fact that I will, for the rest of this month, have to find time every day to write a thousand odd words. This in the month that I take Roe away for a couple of days for her birthday. This in the month that I can't write at night (my usual M.O.) as the computer is in our bedroom. This in the month that my days off see me deep in the bowels of a restaurant's kitchen, roasting bones for stock, making desserts by the hundredweight, filleting seabass by the dozen and generally learning my trade as a humble prep chef. Clearly I have gone nuts.

Crikey.

Still, needs must…

All grown up

Roe has moved in now, I am now officially part of a co-habiting couple, which is a strange sensation.

I have, I'm afraid, always been a bit of a recluse. I have friends whom I love dearly, but I prefer to keep the numbver small and select. I am very fond of my own company, and working in the business that I do leaves me generally all our of bonhomie and goodwill come the end of a shift.

And now, into my loosely ordered and vaguely sordid bachelory lifestyle a force for control and change has impacted like a meteor. I rather like it, as it happens. Only time will tell whether or not it'll work this time (we've attempted it before, and it all went very, very wrong). I suspect it will. I hope so.

How Chip and PIN saved my life

I am not by nature a lazy man. I am not by nature a man inclined to let his life slide out of control, either. However I am a man who simply hates dealing with certain things, namely banking employees at the other end of a phone line. It's just the entire rigmarole of being shuffled from one bored and harrassed school-leaver to another until my simple request is granted. I get round this problem by avoiding it.

Now, I am relatively prudent, I have credit cards, but the sums on them are dealable with (though moderately hefty when totalled up), one of my credit cards dates from my student days, and still bears the scars of a slightly more carefree me, the other is a recent acquisition. I decided to do something adult and sensible, and get a credt card with a low rate to tranfer ruinously high interest rate store cards onto (and I'm boring myself). I steeled myself to the task, completed the necessary forms, made the necessary phone calls through gritted teeth (why the hell did I…

My last day of being twenty six

Is today. Tomorrow the troops will be rallied (our numbers somewhat depleted these days)and pints will be drunk, but today...today I shall be concentrating mostly on feeling as twenty six as humanly possible. Though the big two seven isn't too irksome, as birthdays go. The Shiel turns thirty on friday, which is cheering. Not just yet...

well that was fun

So I've had my first couple of kitchen shifts, and have to say that I found them very enjoyable. Obviously it's way, way too early to be making any decisions, but I am convinced that the decision to give it a go was the right one, so that's okay.

I think the satisfaction in part derives from the sensation of actually making something rather than serving it. This is in no way to devalue my job, I derive a great deal of joy from sending customers home happy; but conversely I have recently started losing patience with the sort of customers who in the past I would just have laughed off.

You see the thing is, I'm just doing a job to the best of my ability, and I'm starting to come to the conclusion that I simply don't need a lot of our customers in my life. I don't know if this is a peculiarly English thing (when I was working in cornwall, and a far higher proportion of the customers were foreign) but we've had a lot of people in recently who have caused me …

Self-indulgence for fun and profit

Ah well, this is the logical apotheosis of coastalblog. Inspired largely by Cel and Porl's air-clearing post on Porl's blog, and tapping into things I may have alluded to in other posts.

There's no other way to say it, I am deeply unhappy. I'm unhappy about being unhappy, I am unhappy about people perceiving me as being unhappy. I'm just plain fucked off about pretty much everything.

So I'm seriously considering retraining as a chef, as alluded to below. In order to take it up professionally would require a wage cut of about fifteeen grand, which I can't afford, to be honest, but I'm doing the training on my days off, if it looks like I might be good at it then it's cheerio comfy wage, cheerio meandering, hello again to the greatest feeling on earth; the feeling where it's you, on your arse facing the world down. I fear I may be addicted to pulling myself out of the gutter but I just LOVE planning day to day, shifting the odd quid to where it…

Sun is shining, weather is sweet

God I love Autumn when it's like this. It's something to do with the taste of the air, I think, that freh crispness which one forgets about over summer and which, when it catches your nostris for the first time makes you think oh yeah jumpers! Walks! Drifts of leaves!.

it also heralds the incipient arrival of the hell on stilts that is Christmas, but more of such things later.

So what am I doing at the mo? Weeeeell, there's one thing occurring which may prove to be of pivotal importance in my life, but I'm reluctant to blog about it just yet, from some strange puritan hangover about not tempting fate. Also I'm having fun editing last year's Nanowrimo piece, having left it for nearly a year, in the hope that I'll rustle up a few ideas for this year's piece. I'm getting lots of reading and writing done, largely as a result of having knackered my knee (again) which kind of precludes any exercise except swimming, and I get VERY bored swimming after mo…

So I've been drinking

Is the short answer to the question "So what've you been up to?" I've been on an extended binge of which this is my first night of sobriety. Water is so lovely, isn't it? Highlights included me and the manager, in an outraged drunken state pulling the ovens apart one night and then leaving them out to demonstrate how mucky they were. The chefs were not happy. Also a wine tasting last monday which ended with me and The Shiel getting blind drunk in Chorley by about two o clock in the afternoon, trying to get home and the next thing we knew we were drinking Guinness in The Temple. We'd got lost (on a train for fuck's sake), ended up in Manchester, and promptly decided to go out on the lash, obviously, but neither of us can recall this occurring. Ruin (he wrote off his car the next day, I learned this evening). The best bit, however, was visiting Paul and Cel at their stately pile in the country. It was nice to see with my own two eyes that Stalybridge looks…

Only one Freddie Flintoff

yes, yes, I know it was days ago, but c'mon, this was five years coming. England beat Australia on Tuesday, it's now Friday and I'm still grinning. Now I'm aware that this post is of limited interest to most of you, I can think of only three coastalblog readers who are cricket fans, so this one's for them. So some thoughts.

What was pleasing (despite the title, you try getting Marcus Trescothick to scan) about England's win was how little of it was down to that man Flintoff, one wicket and one steepling six aside there was little for the crowd's folk hero to do, which seems fair enough, he's done quite a bit already this summer. Before the game I had a feeling that the damage would be done by someone the aussies knew little about, and so (in part) it proved to be. That man Strauss played a delightful innings. Even more pleasing though was that the real damage was done by two men Australia know all about. How many times has McGrath had Trescothick out fi…

Sometimes it all feels good.

It's a sad fact but my personal sense of wellbeing is linked, as is that of millions of other men, in some (small, but palpable) way. So habitually unsuccessful are the teams I follow that I have, of necessity developed a personal voodoo of failure, feeling oddly comforted when I see that they've folded again.

Over the past few days, however, there has been a bounce in my step, partially the signals of autumn in the air, but also partly due to an unaccustomed amount of success. Somerset and Spurs, I thank you. The England cricket team, I thank you even more. Sad really, but what are you gonna do?

The house of no light

These are interesting times here at coastalblog towers. Due to a frankly wonky lighting circuit the house is plunged into darkness of an evening (all attempts to fix it have led to small, but exciting, explosions), our landlord is elusive and Jim and I despair, like an overly sarcastic Vladimir and Estragon of the arrival of the mythical electrician who will somehow make everything better.

To compound this we then endured three days (three!) without internet. No internet and no source of light leaves one, sadly, with only the television for company (romantic image it may be, but reading by candlelight gives me the most phenomenal headaches). Ah, television, I am reminded now of why I never watch it.

No, this is not entirely fair, there was a programme on last night with a jolly enthusiastic silver haired chap yomping up and down the highlands waving maps about. Now that's the sort of programme I like, I hope one day to become a jolly enthusiastic silver haired chap who yomps up an…

Philosophiblog

Okay, there haven't been a great deal of posts recently (how many times has that sentence been typed throughout blogland - always with the same layer of minor guilt?). Too busy, too tired, too libidinous, too besieged by demon monkeys - pick your own excuse.

So nevertheless, conforming to actualite coastalblog needs to take a minute or to to cry into it's pint at the departure from Ormskirk's sunny climes of Porl and Cel. They're both aware of how much I love them, so further eulogies are unnecessary. Nevertheless huge hole in life, and what have you.

Confining myself to actual news would prove depressing in the extreme, so some inchoate thoughts from the last few days, as ever, make of them what you will:

sometimes you will encounter someone who you just plain don't like, often without good reason, don't feel guilty about this, just accept it and you'll save yourself a lot of worrying. Don't feel guilty about plotting their downfall either, they'v…

Woodford Reserve and associated fun

Okay, distinct paucity of blog action recently, for which I am sorry. In mitigation the manager at work is off on his jollies and I am left holding the fort (with no little aplomb, if I can be allowed a brief moment of self-aggrandisement), I'm currently five days into an eleven day stint.

Some thoughts: managers are liars, learn this and learn it well. Management consists entirely of doing no work and just checking that everything's fine. My predecessors lied to me for years, it's really not that hard. I'm quite angry with them for pretending that it was. When you manage you don't have to do any cleaning, ergo it's easier.
You can't please everyone, this is a concept which anyone who works in service industries should clasp to their knackered breast as a shining torch of hope, my god but the general public will happily whine about anything, just repeat the mantra of "It's really not that important" to yourself the ENTIRE TIME and there is a …

So it's the olympics

...and my viewing pleasure of this ridiculous bloated spectacle will this year be enhanced immeasurably by my getting hold of a copy of the theme music to the Benny Hill show, and playing it over all walking events,.

It's time, once again for Matt's capsule reviews!

You know the drill, it won't necessary be relevant or contemporary, merely what media I've been consuming recently.

Strong Words - modern poets on modern poetry (Bloodaxe)
Excellent collection of essays by poets both famous and less so, which I suspect may do not a little towards informing this poetics movement we all have to work with these days. Particularly outstanding are essays by Yeats, MacNeice, Edwin Morgan and Sean O'Brien. Andrew Motion, as always, contributes fuck all of interest. One for Mr Cibula, I think.

Get Shorty
I just rewatched this film for the first time in several years, and can't quite get over how unbearably smug the whole thing is. Entertaining, but smug. Gene Hackman's laugh always makes me want to tear his arms off, and I will never, ever buy Travolta as a figure of cool. Have you seen Battlefield Earth?

That new Fatboy Slim single
You know the one, slash dot dash dot etc. Either Mr Slim is an evil genius or he has run entirely out of idea…

I love Ormskirk

As I was closing up the restaurant last night, a drunk old man moved past the window. Swaying, early seventies at a guess. A fairly typical sight at eleven thirty.

Except this guy was on rollerblades. Smartly dressed in a brown suit, his hair brylcreemed slickly back, and on rollerblades. Rollerblades.

I love Ormskirk.

In other news, a review of the Neon Higthway reading popped into my inbox this morning, and cheered me up to the extent that I almost forgot that I've been sick as a dog for the last five bastard days, it concluded:

Finally, featured poet Matt Falaize delighted the crowd with his unashamed celebrations of weirdness. Whilst he too totally ignored the chosen themes of the evening, his mile-a-minute articulation of insane tongue twisters about life in Ormskirk and Cornwall were nothing short of sensational, complete with frantic wordplay and imaginary gangster funerals.

That'll do for me, at least I've got one now to compete with my bad review. In your face, Ste…

Sympathy for @l@n P3n3ll

So we have a new monster to fear, ladies and gentlemen. The schoolboy killer has been named, shamed and banged up for the rest of his natural-born. The public can breath easy once more.

Leaving aside the dodgy ethics of jailing a sixteen year old for life we are left with what is, simply put, a plain upsetting news story. A boy, a child, is dead, stabbed by the aforementioned in an argument over a girl. His life is gone, and ain't coming back, and this of course is a terrible terrible thing. His family and friend's lives are forever blighted and it is beholden to us to grieve for him, and for them all.

Alan's life, too, is forfeit however. The story struck a chord with me. The wounds of school are still pretty fresh to be honest, and I remember vividly the desperation and anguish of not feeling as if you fitted in. Regrettably I am not of  a strong enough character to revel in loner status, and I remember my mother's exasperation at my attempts to alter myself, to be…

En-er-vation (woooo-ooh, woooo-ooohoo)

Ever since I got that reading out of the way I have achieved precisely nothing. I am a spent force (okay, I'm aware that that's not actually the case, and this is a perfectly natural hiatus due to the expenditure of a great deal of creative energy in one burst, but you take my point). I haven't even been able to think of anything to blog, and I haven't wanted to read, which are the two main triggers that get me going. So how to occupy my time?

Admin! Oh the smugness of catching up on your personal admin, oh the self-satisfied glow of letter-writing and emailing, oh the sheer heaven of turning up for work early and getting everything done. The only problem being it turns one into a vegetable, fit only to do the most humdrum of tasks. Organised shopping? no problem,  create a meal from said organised shopping? Sorry, my brain's melted. It's been quite enjoyable taking this brief mental holiday, but I'm starting to stir in frustration again. If only there were…

My favourite poem

It seems strange that I write regularly here about poetry but so little about my philosophy of writing. So here's the full test of my all-time favourite poem. Nmaing of parts, by Henry Reed. See, the whole school of war poetry, with its agenda inherent and obvious by the mere factor of its classification is against pretty much everything I stand for in writing, which is lack of fanfare, the hiding of the agenda beneath layers of allusiondivegrence of topic, and understatement, which is truer to the human condition than any amount of tub-thumping, as far as I'm concerned. So here's how a war poem, no, how any poem, should be done.

I. NAMING OF PARTS

(Henry Reed)

To-day we have naming of parts. Yesterday,
We had daily cleaning. And to-morrow morning,
We shall have what to do after firing. But to-day,
To-day we have naming of parts. Japonica
Glistens like coral in all of the neighboring gardens,
And to-day we have naming of parts.

This is the lower sling swivel. And…

Go! Go! Go!

As I may have alluded, the reading went well. In fact it exceeded my wildest expectations. The audience was larger than I expected, and included the heaviest-hitting poetry mag editor in the UK, which is handy. I was good, I think, a little too fast which is a perpetual problem with my readings, but I was way, way better than I'd feared when I was constructing the list for the reading.

When we were in the pub later I heard my tutor from Uni roar "tell him how good he was!", which meant more to me than I can ever tell you (the man has serious props as a poet). So forgive me, all of you, if I take just this one moment to feel pleased with myself for once.

Well done me.

The caveat to this is I had several published and serious types criticising me for not having a book out yet, so as a motivational tool I ask you all to stay resolutely on my back and keep asing me what I've done towards that recently, I need it. Anticipatory thankyous to one and all.

Matt has glasses now

Okay, needed them for years. Left my last pair in the Tudor in wigan one emotion and beer-drenched night a long time ago, and never really had the capital to do it since. But these days...relatively well-off, no longer have to put up with weird fuzzy horizons.

My god it's fucking ACE. I planned the moment I put on my new glasses exactly, I wanted to fully appreciate the epiphanical nature of the moment, so I resisted the blandishments of the optician and waited until I was out in the countryside, the better to pick up details of leaves and what have you. In order to heighten the sense of shock I got magnicently battered beforehand also. Then I put them on, and damn near passed out from the beauty and intricacy of the world.

I fear that I will forget this sense of wonder as time drags on and I get used to my new twenty-twenty sharp-visioned existence. But in the same way that no non-asthmatic fully appreciates the sky-kicking loveliness of breathing freely you normally sighted folk…

Addendum

and in the cold light of morning you read back over the previous night's raving and....

some of it's okay, actually. This is how I work best. Get all worked up and simply blast and then in the cold and sober light of day edit edit edit. There're a couple of germs of good ideas in there, and that gives me something to work with. All of a sudden This reading seems a lot less scary (B-but Bill Griffiths has the same billing at the next one! Crikey!).

Christ, I'm a one man cottage industry.

I have some very exciting news to share with you all. I appear to have started writing again with a VENGEANCE. This evening I decided to take it back to the old school and see what happened if I just sat, got good and drunk, and wrote, and you know, it seems to be working.

I think largely the blogging may be a part of it. Admittedly Coastalblog is a semi regular endeavour at best but even that lax discipline reminds me of what it is to write, which is, I feel, the most important thing. Even the shortest blog entry is an act of creation, and the best way to perpetuate creativity is to keep creating.

On a slightly more downbeat note though, having read back through some of it it's the most self-lacerating stuff I've ever produced. I think my subconscious may have a down on me at the mo. Whatever, it feels good to have words on page again.

Speaking of which, this bit's an open letter to Laura. Still write at all? Cuz you really should, I think (I know, I really should save th…

Jobs for the boys.

Three things:

Well fucking done Porl. I'm immensely proud. Well fucking done Jim and Robin also.

Adam and I really should be kept apart, the world can't take that much ennui in a confined space.

Sam is a bad bad man. A very very bad bad man.

Normal service to be resumed once I'm through writing this story about a man who wilfully fucks up his own life for no readily apparent reason (ahem).

One more thing. Isn't Sloop John B a brilliant song? (I'd never make it as a music journo...)

The thlot pickens

Ahem, my, I was in a bad mood that day wasn't I? Relax, normal service will be resumed.
So over on ILE there was an almighty brouhahah after some chap said he woas going to produce a book of threads using cafepress. Nasty words like "copyright infringemen" were bandied about.
Now, regardless of how silly the entire thing was (and those getting angry at him were pretty much in the right) the one thing which I did take from it was how jolly seriously everyone seemed to take themselves. I mean, I write and everything, but I've cheerfully given poems away to people without any thought as to where they may turn up. For all I know, my copyright is being badly infringed as I write this, it doesn't bother me overly; I can always write more poems. Neither do I think that anything that I write is of such massive importance that I'm going to get in a snit about it, but that's just me, it would appear. I probably should have contributed this to the thread in question…

When you look in the mirror, and shock yourself with a glare...

Weeeeell. I feel strange. Everything in my life points towards some significance, but as to what significance, I cannot tell. From the moment I wake, to the last few gasps of the day my life feels cinematic. I am living outside of myself, I have no idea of why this should be.

It is almost a feeling of being extra-alive, with the concomitant problems of feeling so much. I'm crying a lot more these days, often for no reason. I got back from work tonight, sat in my chair and just wept. I have no idea why.

When I wake, I'm like a bullet, I tear into the day. My workrate when I'm in my job leaves others shaking their heads. The long hours on the track, or on the treadmill, or doing laps of the woods or lengths of the pool, the thousands of situps, the solitary nature of the training regime I've imposed on myself for reasons I remain unsure of all add up to a growing sense of alienation from pretty much everything. My answer to everything is like Boxer's in Animal Farm. …

Summertime Blues

As an autumn-loving adolescent, addicted to big jumpers and moping under grey Cornish skies my mother always wisely said to me "as you get older, you'll like summer more." In this she was right, as I've got a little older I have a growing fondness and regard for sunlight, an ear more attuned to the soprofic qualities of bees, an almost religious devotion to breakfasting outside with the papers and a large bowl of blueberries. Fifteen year old me would be disgusted, and fly straight back to his Smiths records and Turgenev. I like summer.

In all respects but one. The temperature rises, and my fellow countrymen collectively lose their minds on a heady cocktail of long evenings and two for one deals.

It would be all too easy to come off sounding like a grumpy liberal writing this (aha, and the Dead Kennedy's have just come up on random play - how apt), but I do beleive that the nation's gone a bit nuts. I stood outside the door at work on the final mwhistle agai…

Goodness I'm a lazy lazy man

Feeling kinda disjointed at the moment. Pretty good...but not that good. Something, and I have no idea what is nagging away at the back of my mind. But it won't let me see it, yet. Hmm.

Some moments from the last week or so which have crystallised with perfect clarity though..

last week, cleaned the yard. Not all that exciting in and of itself, but slightly more so when it occurred as this kind of compulsion. Woke up "must clean yard" by the end of the day was eating a meal on new furniture in suddenly clean yard. Odd. Very odd.

Trip with R to Byrne's of Clitheroe, the greatest wine merchants I've ever been in (admittedly not the hugest of fields, but I am yet young). The rising sense of excitement as room gave way to room, each more full of fabulous wine than the last. I shopped Also, the view from the top of the castle.

I had to work Sunday, so missed the debacle in Portugal, it was a little strange, as on the final whistle I could hear this beer-saturated howl…

Fat People of Britain: put down the fork.

So the government is worried about rising levels of obesity amongst the british populace. The tabloids carry stories of a girl as young as three dying due to her obesity. Britain gets ever lardier, waistlines going up in direct relation to the nation's hospital beds filling up with groaning, wobbly heart disease cases. Clearly Something Must Be Done. Clearly it is the fault of the evil pernicious food industry sneaking extra calories into their products, it's probably a terrorist plot or something. Failing that, it's the government's fault. Anyone's fault other than...

Yes, fatty, your fucking fault. You choose what you put in your mouth. Nobody else. Parents! If your child is fat it's YOUR FAULT. But this ready meal is so high in salt and saturated fats! you cry. Who bought it? Eh? But my child doesn't like food that's good for them! Bullshit. Growing up I simply had a smaller portion of what my parents ate. In this way I developed a palate which meant…

Families, eh?

Well that was a great deal of fun. Nan's ninetieth passed off ery well, I'm pleased to say, and the lady in question was somewhat overwhelmed emotionally. I, of course, merely had a speck of dust in my eye.

It's odd, as I rarely think of myself as being a family oriented person. I'm fairly isolated from them all here in Lancashire, and weeks will go past where I have no contact with parents or siblings, let alone aunties and cousins (I do try to make an effort to write semi-regularly to Nan, as the matriarch of the family it seems the only respectful thing to do; plus it assuages my conscience somewhat when my behaviour has perhaps not been of the highest), yet seeing everyone again was, well, kinda good. Not just that my uncle John looks so like me it's a bit spooky, not just that, at ninety my Nan looks in better nick than she did when she was seventy-five (sporting a natty pair of pinstripe trousers that some of the twentysomething ladies present looked at with…

Bleeeehhhh

Right then, I have time now.

So, to recap:

Matt has no internet for an extended period of time. During this time Matt does several exciting things. Playing geetar in a wild and incoherent fashion for Porl, which I'd been dying to do and which was pushing the most fun I've ever had. Tick off another box on the mental checklist (only to discover that a number of other boxes have mysteriously appeared). Discovering that I'm going to be reading on the radio next month (radio Merseyside no less, does my fame know NO BOUNDS? The upside is that I will then be able to state without fear of contradiction that I have broadcast for the BBC) and, perhaps best of all, taking delivery of an industrial quantity of recreation, leading to many hours spent looking out of my window in a vague good mood.

Furthermore this weekend I shall be off down south for my Nan's surprise 90th birthday party (cue a slew of lame "don't surprise her too much" jokes). This is a Good Thing. …

The strangest thing....

So last night I had a twenty minute conversation with a regular customer, a man I didn't have pregged previously for anything other than drinking and bad jokes. This tewenty minute conversation was about the late, great Sarah Kane's haunted suicide and last play, the harrowing 4:48 Psychosis. This man had never been to the theatre in his life and the first thing he goes to see is something by Sarah Kane.

I can't imagine what that would do to your head. It's jolted me out of a few smug preconceptions though.

All systems gone

I am knackered, I mean in the epic sense. Very little sleep last night (note to self, and also cautionary warning to all coastalblog readers DO NOT EAT A LARGE PIZZA AND THEN ATTEMPT TO SLEEP IN A WARM ROOM. IT IS A RECIPE FOR DISASTER. YOU WILL FIND YOURSELF WATCHING BBC NEWS 24 AT FIVE IN THE FUCKING MORNING. IT'S NOT EVEN NEWS AT THAT POINT. IT'S WORLD BUSINESS REPORT. DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW DULL WORLD BUSINESS REPORT IS? IT'S DULL. REALLY FUCKING DULL). Beyond that I'm pretty good, rehearsals for my one off rock god appearance come sunday are going surprisingly well (surprising given that I haven't picked up a guitar in anger in over two years prior to this). Writer's research thingy yesterday sparked off a few ideas, and I'm starting a poetics essay this very evening.

As Bokonon in Cat's Cradle would say, busy busy busy.

Recipe Archive

Part one in an astonishingly occasional series. I mean really occasional. As occasional as those days where you don't wake up with an indefinable sense of dread.

So anyway, as coastalblog readers will doubtless be aware, I'm quite fond of food. I think it's nice. My cookbook Food is nice will shortly be available in all reputable my houses. Today's recipe, created and tinkered with for a colleague whose general aceness DEMANDS that she has recipes created in her honour is...

Philippa Chicken.

Take some pieces of skin on chicken, thighs for preference, and marinade. Marinade as follows. Tblspn Tamarind Paste, half a glass dark soy, half a glass dry white, a dash or six of fino sherry, 1 diced medium chilli, a couple of teaspoons muscovado sugar, one scant teaspoon of mustard. Make small incisions in the skin to allow the marinade to penetrate. Stick it in the fridge. A few hours should do the trick Make sure to turn them so they're coated all over. Take yourself of…

IN 1979 a crack team of commandos escaped from a maximum security stockade

Ahem.
So hi, how are all three of you? Well, I do hope so. Ormksirk life contnues with interesting variations. There has been rehearsal for this Manchestery guitary thing. Which is fun (and will be a small box ticked in my mental inventory of aims), and beyond that not a great deal.

No, that's not strictly true. Roe and I had the most entertaining meal of our lives at the execrable St Petersburg. I urge anyone with the capability to do so to go. It fascinating. The tone of the evening was set when the waiter insisted we go up the stairs first, largely so he could gaze at Roe's arse, we gathered. Starters were fine, if a little on the smothered in cream side, and my lamb dish was fine, until I came to the side veg. What had been described on the menu as "traditional russian fried potatoes" was nothing more than, well, a pile of stale crinkle cut crisps. Undeterred, and hungry I mashed them into the (otherwise perfectly pleasant) lamb stew.

Roe's "Scallops in …

That week in full

My liver cries for vengeance for my errant behaviour this past week. Monday myself and some compadres visited the catering trade show in Manchester's G-Mex. This consists largely of suppliers trying to get me to stock their wares by giving me free alcohol. Needless to say hopeless ruin ensued, within three hours we were all irredeemably trolleyed. And then we decided to go out in Manchester. This, and I cannot emphasise this enough, was an error. I have no memories of what followed beyond getting slung out of one of the dingiest bars I have ever been in, with a jukebox at full blast, for being too loud.

Wednesday I atoned for this day of excess by buying Roe a spectacular meal at 60 Hope St. This proved costly, but ultimately worth it as I had one of those marvellous evenings when you feel rich, for a bit. Any excuse to wear a suit really.

Since then I have mostly been getting horribly bitched at work, and now I'm jolly, jolly tired. Oh well.

Minor updating

You know the best thing that has happened recently? On Sunday, I had my first external pint of the year. By which I mean, on Sunday enjoed the first slice of pure god is in his heaven joy BEER GARDEN pint of the goddamn YEAR.
Beer tastes better outdoors. fact. Particularly if you, as I was, are drinking honest to goodness fabulous Flowers IPA. Mrs Coastaltown was cold. It's her own fault for drinking lager.
OUTDOORS BEER people! Spring is here, my runs become long and contemplative, and not only becase I've stuck Brahm's third on my MP3 player to get me through the long miles, though that helps. Birds in trees! Clocks going forward! Robin being utterly fooled by my putting out kitchen clock forward three hours! Honestly, what's not to like?
Furthermore, I am going to spend next monday getting horribly drunk FOR FREE as I am going to a TRADE FAIR. For catering! A days worth of free pimp food and drink! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Out on the lash in Manchester!
Also, I cann…

Woo-hoo blue shirt woo-hoo!

Fare thee well white shirts of servitude, hello blue shirts of ordering people the FUCK around. Blue suits me a lot better, also.

Any old road, I have no wish to neglect Coastalblog, and have been reprimanded for doing so. So here is a list of my top five favourite garden implements.

THE RAKE
The surly boss of leaves, the stick thin Freddie Krueger of the garden, the rake is the only implement which can also be used for scratching one's back in a pinch, and for that it gets "mad props"

THE SPADE
Hey you! Yeah, you! Diggin' a hole huh? Then you'll be needing one of these! Wave it in the faces of passers by in moments of physical metaphor. Alternatively fight a bloody hand to hand rearguard against the bally Hun. It can do ALL THESE THINGS AND MORE. Word.

THE HOSE
When I was small my Grandfather sat me on his knee and said in kindly tones "Should you ever be required to water a large area, you may require one of these. Furthermore they support a wide range of …

Few days roundup

Okay. Some reflections on management: it's a piece of piss, once you get the hang of getting other people to do things for you. The degree of detachment necessary is something I'm struggling to achieve but all told it's an improvement.

The only downside is that the alst two week have seen work consume my life entirely, I'm curently on day two of a three day break and I can just about feel myself starting to unwind. Laregly thanks to and excellent meal last night at the Lynskey-recommended Wilsons restaurant. There's nothing like a good meal, good wine, and the excellent company of the delightful Mrs Coastaltown to restore some sense of self.

Bit of a nuisance that I missed the debut Lynskey gig in Manchester, by the time I found out it was taking place it was far too late for me to arrange any time off. Grrr. Apparently it went down very well, I have yet to see the man himself for a thorough analysis though.

So, all things considered it's all good. Poems are wi…

Hmm work / life balance hmm

or alternatively, what every mid twentysoemthing complains to themselves about.

So, new job, and it's lots and lots and lots of work. Conversely, when I opened my wage packet my eyebrows shot up to somewhere in the region of Pluto. Goodness me. No really, the pints are on me in perpetuity.

However, my ever perceptive brother in Matt-ness Haikunym mailed me with the hope that this new job doesn't interfere wioth what I still regard as the "real me", that writing, geetar-playing eternal student I still want to be, which was an interesting point.

Basically, to what extent am I allowing my new found (comparitively) wealthy manager-type status to interfere with that self image. Answer: loads. There are debts to pay, and a future to finance and thnk of. My question to coastalblog readers is this, where does your idea of you stop, and the realities of what you have to do begin? it'll take me a while to strike the balance, I think. All help appreciated.

Sidenote: Laura, …

Elements of the past

My memory is becoming increasingly unreliable. as a result, Coastalblog earns yet another pupose: to recall moments that I may forget, shortly.

The night before my last ever day working at the Job Centre, knowing I was gone therefore not caring. The three hour walk back from Roger's in Halsall. Trying to phone work to say I ouldn't make it, no-one answering. Running, improbably, into my mate Adam, who was cycling to work as I walked home from the night before. The look of incredulity on his face as he ran into me in the middle of nowhere. Staggering into Ormskirk and buying a pie from Hampson's cos I was starving. The sure knowledge tha I am never likely to live a life wherein I walk seven miles home in the bright bright morning just because I feel like it ever ever again.

I regret that I do not remember the precise nature of the pie but I think it was steak.

A fumbled kiss in the doorway of the maternity ward of Ormskirk hospital with a girl I really shouldn't have th…

Today I saw the world's most breathtakingly cynical child.

So there I was in the wine aisle of Safeways, mulling over whether to buy a Margaux or not when a trolley crashed into my side, pushed by this young lad, probably about eight or nine with mop of blond hair and the most malicious grin I've ever seen.

His mother rushed over to apologise, and turned to remonstrate with her son, she'd merely placed a hand on his shoulder and the kid opened his mouth and fucking screamed.

"DON'T HIT ME AGAIN MUMMY! STOP IT! YOU'RE HURTING ME! WHY DO YOU ALWAYS HT ME? STOP IT MUMMY!"

I was a little gobsmacked, and more than a bit appalled, so it seemed natural justice when the kid tried running past me later on, and I stuck out a foot and sent the little fucker flying into a stack of tins before walking away, whistling.

In case you were wondering, I bought a St Emilion instead.

Some more capsule reviews

There is plenty for me to do, but it's raining outside and for some reason that always sucks the motivation to do anything right out of me. So 'm going to be cruel and dismissive about a bunch of stuff I've read / watched / listened to instead (though, if you're very lucky, I may find something to be nice about).

Talkie Walkie - Air

Music for cunts who write advertising copy to listen to whilst making their fucking coffee in their fucking loft on sunny fucking Sunday bastard mornings whilst the honey blonde bint from last night sleeps next door, blissfully unaware that now her tits have been used to snort coke off, she's no longer necessary. Awful.


That docudrama about Dunkirk

"Stiff upper lip chaps! The bally hun's got us on the ropes."
"Blimey Sarge! Best leave the frogs and the injured to die then!"
"Carry on soldier"
THIS IS WHAT HISTORY BOOKS ARE FOR YOU WITLESS BASTARDS.


Sex and the city

I had managed to go for this show's …

O-kay then

In other news, there's plenty o'news.
So the big manager has been given his shot elsewhere. His assistant and I step up to promotion. In theory, it's all beautiful. Wage hike, more of a chance to prove I'm more than capable of running the whole shebang stood on my head, big old gilt-edged opportunity right there.

But of course, the fears immediately start to creep in. Will the new manager go power-crazed and start barking at staff in front of customers? Will I crumble under the pressure of having to be nice to people all the time? And isn't it about thime that I started accepting that I seem to have gone career here? All this, and more, in your super soaraway coastalblog.

I sspect I may be blogging a bit more frequently than usual, I'll have a lot to work through in the coming months, and writing it all out does help to clarify matters somewhat. The two week hiatus was down to a variety of factors: the jaw-dropping rapidity of my promotion, the net being out f…

Blog it up, blogboy.

Melancholia time.

I've started work on a new piece tonight. The working title is "Roughs for a longer text". It consists of snippets of what might be poems, what might be more a statement of intent (my reading of the semantically dodgy catch-all term "poetics").

My field is just so fucking vast . There is a weight of canon which, provides something to kick against at the smae time as being a huge set of shackles. I can write what I like, I can fight every poetic tradition that has ever existed, which may be the key to "making it new" cf Pound, tho' he was a cunt. At the same time, however, I will unconsciously reference Lee Harwood, Tom Raworth, Bill Griffiths, Roy Fisher, Brecht, Perec, Bunyan, Pynchon, Allen Fisher, Rob Sheppard, Scott Thurston, everyone I've ever read who has impacted upon me in some way.

(Take a few moments here and G00gl3 a few of the names, it'll help understand, trust me).

GAH! Why do I bother? The answer is immedia…

Phase six: it's oh so quiet...

SO the staff night out is out of the way, and I didn't get too drunk and do something embarrassing. On the contrary, I was the last man standing (if swaying a little by the end). The upside to this is simple, I can stop drinking now for a while.

It's odd, but there's no incentive not to drink when you have a big night out looming. I spent most of last week pissed purely to keep up the momentum. ENOUGH! It's mineral water ahoy for a week, plus there's just a last little but of excess weight to shift before I'm happy - not drinking definitely the key.

All of that self-indulgent nonsense out of the way, and I'm pleased to be able to report that the Shirokuma live expreience (my mate Mark, ably supported by a combination of friends and people I've never met in my life) is nearly ready to go. As well as the surprise of one of us actually amounting to soething I have found the whole thing something of a spur to my own creativity. Call it the "I'm fuc…

Late nights, drinking, the usual.

Ho ho, so, at coastaltown towers today, the setting in of a small degree of delayed shock as regards the whole dead waiter thing. Situation not helped by the fact that Big Boss's thoroughly nice dad also shuffled off this mortal coil the day afterwards. Atmosphere at work = tres gloomy.

Incidentally yes, I am going to the whole staff party, which seems a trifle irrelevant now.

Also, stop press, enormous existential crisis in process triggered by god knows what. All hands to pump immediately. Supportive emails along the lines of "Dear Mr Coastaltown, I think we just rot in the ground too, also, having no legitimate purpose is not necessarily a bad thing. Love, regular Coastalblog admirer" required IMMEDIATELY.

Um

An odd day yesterday. Lovely as it was to spend an entire day with the delightful Roe, and great as it was to go the Eagle and Child in the company of friends the whole shebang was somewhat overshadowed by the death of a former waiter of mine. He was found face down in his house.

Now, this young man wasn't someone I knew particularly well, and he left a while ago, but a lot of my staff know him and the whole thing has cast a shadow over a lot of people. It's just plain depressing. So, for what it's worth, RIP James.

I'm hard at it (ahem hem)

Ssshhhh, if nobody looks they won't notice that I'm MAKING FUNNY FACES BEHIND YOUR FUCKING BACKS = I really want to avoid the staff do, which is looming, at all costs, and I do mean AT ALL COSTS. I am an old man. I do not want to go drinking with teenagers. I want to go drinking with people who can hold a fucking conversation, and their drink.

Matt's capsule film reviews

So I finally dragged my arse to the cinema to see that Lord of the Rings thing that everyone keeps going on about. It was quite dull. Oh Evil is scary. Oh, we won.

So I watched the sequel to Battle Royale. It was rubbish.

Lost in translation is okay, if you like romantic comedies (I don't) and Bill Murray (I do). Scarlett Johansson, yes please, but I preferred her in Ghost World.

Coming soon, capsule reveiws of anything. I'm into being casually dismissive at the moment.

Oh, go on then

It's Blog convention to post silly internet quizzes in once in a while, is it not?

If I were a Dead Russian Composer, I would be Dmitri Shostakovich!I am a shy, nervous, unassuming, fidgety, and stuttery little person who began composing the same year I started music lessons of any sort. I wrote the first of my fifteen symphonies at age 18, and my second opera, "Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District," when I was only 26. Unfortunately, Stalin hated the opera, and put me on the Enemy Of The People List for life. I nevertheless kept composing the works I wanted to write in private; some of my vocal cycles and 15 string quartets mock the Soviet System in notes. And I somehow was NOT killed in the process! And Harry Potter(c) stole my glasses and broke them!Who would you be? Dead Russian Composer Personality Test

A little cheering. Apart from that it's been a bad, bad day. For reasons I'm not prepared to go into even in a blog that nobody reads. Just me and some wine n…

I don't know where it comes from

IMPORTANT NOTE: all Coastalblog entries from here on in will be named after Ride songs.

EQUALLY IMPORTANT NOTE: This is a lie

Well, well, well, what's got into me all of a sudden? I feel stable and relaxed. I'm loving my job (which isn't to say I'm not looking for new ones, but it's astonishing what a big wedge of money will do for your outlook on things), this evening I quite possibly sewed up waiter Of The Year 2004 with a flawless performance which secured a a regular reservation by some curmudgeonly, but exceedingly rich and big spending, with lots of rich and big spending mates, blokes. Some sort of social society, I gather. I don't really care. It was like a test of how good I really am, which was passed with flying colours, off they all trooped into the night singing our praises, hefty tip and repeat booking safely bagged. Therefore I am currently Golden Boy, at least until tomorrow, which is, of course, nice (I am, of course, aware, that it's easy t…

Bright eyed and bushy tailed.

Heigh ho for the new year and what have you. I've got a lot more time for New Year's than I do for Christmas, it's a more relevant to me, and I do seem to find that January brings with it a new impetus; largely as working in catering....

IT'S OVER! IT'S OVER! IT'S FUCKING OVER! (for another year, anyway)

All that aside I saw the New Year in in fine style, a really good night at work with everyone dancing and waving their arms around, bucketloads of champers, a fairly dull after-party from which I bailed and then the best bit of the night, sat at home with a big chunky glass of port at about six in the mrning, just having a mment or ten of quiet reflection.

This was followed the next day by a spectacular Casa Coastaltown Gumbo Extravaganza which was just plain great, just to have plenty of people in the same space (with a notable exception - get well soon Cel). Then a brief illness which I seem to have got away with and yesterday a shopping trip to the Big Smok…