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Showing posts from 2016

What. The. Actual. Fuck.

There are no easy answers at a time like this. The (not entirely surprising, post-Brexit) win of Donald Trump in the US presidential election is one of the more seismic events of what could reasonably classed as "quite a lively year". There's going to be a lot of bollocks talked about it over the coming weeks and months, so I thought I'd get my half-baked theorising in early, in order to bugger off birdwatching, or listening to the cricket or something, anything, less distressing than the thought of a Trump Presidency. And no, there aren't any easy answers. But there are a few things worth noting. After the EU referendum, it was easy for those of us on the Remain side to point and say "racism". But anyone capable of a little reflective thought will have gone "Well no, not all of them. That's not possible, there must be other reasons." So it is with Trump. I do not doubt for a fraction of a second that race played a part, or, for tha

Digging in the crates

I've written before about the sheer overwhelming amount of text there is in the world (at least I think I have, I should have anyway, I think about it quite a lot), and I've been reflecting on that as I've been going over old work. As someone who feels compelled to write, but not necessarily compelled to do anything with it, I have over the years amassed a vast amount of journals, notebooks, old word files in the dustier corners of my hard drive, all filled with poems, stories, half poems, half stories, ideas, occasionally the odd line that I liked. I've been going through them, i rather felt bad that something might be languishing in one, half-decent but long-forgotten, it's been an interesting exercise. I'm calling it "rescued poems" and as and when one gets rescued, I'll pop them up on coastalblog's sister blog, The Armchair Dissident. It's the least they deserve.

News tinnitus, status quo bias, writer's block and fear of failure.

I had rationalised my writer's block as simply the world being too absurd to comment upon. You'll be familiar with the old story that, when Henry Kissinger won the Nobel Peace price, the satirist Tom Lehrer retired, as satire couldn't compete with reality. So it's been with me, in retreat from the sheer insanity of modern political discourse I felt no urge to comment upon it, felt rather that a period of looking the other way was in order. And is so often the way with me, withdrawal from one part of the writing process lead to complete withdrawal from all of it. Plus I was too busy at work, it's not fair on the family for me to be locked away with a computer, I need some time doing nothing. Many reasons. Well, that's what I told myself, anyway. Then I read an interesting piece by Oliver Burkeman . Now, I've never been much of a one for self help and analysis, I think mentally I've lumped it all in the bin marked "hippy bollocks" along with

Is Leadsom the Tory Corbyn?

You will have noticed the brouhaha surrounding putative conservative leader Andrea Leadsom and her remarks about motherhood, it's been rather difficult to avoid them. I watched the reaction unfolding when I got back from work on Friday night, alerted at first by Leadsom's furious tweets about being misrepresented. After her official apology, I'm forced to wonder if these initial tweets weren't laying the groundwork for something far cleverer. Post Brexit, there's been a lot of talk about how the vote was for some a protest against "The Establishment" those nebulous shadowy figures who are carelessly ruining all our lives for us. Those who of it wasn't for "them" we'd all be living happier and wealthier lives (The problem with this is of course that it's total cobblers, which I'll return to some day). There is a climate of mistrust of elites (accompanied by a dangerous prevailing anti-intellectualism, but that too is a post for a

It's tempting to get shot of the whole shebang

We truly are living in very interesting times. Or times of great opportunity. Or the End of Days. Or scary times, or upbeat times, or any sort of time it is perceived to be in the eye of the beholder. The country's racist, the country isn't racist. It's worse than the seventies. The seventies were a golden time. It's Thatcherism all over again. Thatcher would have been a Remainer. Remainers are whiners, Levers are bigots. Corbyn's a disaster, Corbyn's the Messiah. Leadsom's a liar. Leadsom's being stitched up. Frankly, it's never been more tempting to fuck off to the middle of a moor with a tent and big bag of books. Which, if I didn't have children, a wife and a job, I'd probably be doing right about now. My fellow countrymen haven't shown themselves in the best of lights over the last few weeks, and I'm not talking only of Brexiteers. The roiling shambles engulfing both the Conservatives and Labour are enough to cause anyone to sh

Obligatory referendum post

It was pointed out me that I've been fairly quiet on the subject of the referendum so far. This is largely because I didn't want to state the bleeding obvious. Remain, obviously. Every argument I've heard from leave has been vague hand-flapping of the "it'll be fine" variety. I've heard no numbers. It's an emotional argument peddled by misty-eyed fantasists of an Elgar-soundtracked Merrie England which NEVER EXISTED at the more palatable end, and by swivel eyed bigots and xenophobes at the less refined end. All their argument about "red tape" conveniently ignore the protection of workers which eu directives enforce (and which the Tories would dearly love to get rid of, reckon maternity allowance would be what it is out of the eu? Then you're an imbecile. Get to the back of the class and play with some paper or something). I'd have some sympathy for the immigration argument, were it not for the fact that every eastern European I've

Organ Donor

I do try, believe me. I spent so many years haranguing the bored, the desperate, and those who merely couldn't escape about music and how desperately important it was that now, when I (whisper it) am a bit too busy to keep with every slightest development I still, for what it's worth, attempt to keep half an eye on what's going on. I feel like it's a betrayal of every poor soul I forced to listen to the obscure short run Arab Strap single I'd hunted down, or, lord save me, record company promo samplers featuring bands I JUST KNEW would rock the world. it's almost a heresy to retread old ground. But, there is quite a bit to be said for wallowing in nostalgia, and when this evening I stumbled upon a load of old DJ shadow stuff (whilst looking for something else, good old serendipity) it was with some relief that I bunged it on, and relived a few old thoughts as the tea cooked. Okay, fine, I'm getting old.

"He who asks is a fool for five minutes, but he who does not ask remains a fool forever."

Ancient chinese proverb apparently. Don't worry, I've not become a life coach or anything like that. Nor will coastalblog shortly become a vehicle for flogging my ebook "five steps to a better you because the old you was rubbish" or anything like that. However, in one of my trawls through the entertaining world of hackwork as discussed yesterday, this popped up. In short I'm writing a bunch of captions for various "inspirational" quotes for some book or other. It's a fairly unedifying bit of ghost-writing for the most part. But every once in a while one of the "inspirational" quotes is, actually, inspirational. Certainly to me, anyhow, as a lifelong hidebound idiot who'd rather die than admit not knowing something I found myself writing the caption and thinking "you know, I really should follow my own advice here." Though I think I'll have to retool it to be slightly more accurate: "He who asks has it in his damn fo

Schools of thought

Unusually, I haven't been thinking a lot about writing. Or, rather, I haven't been thinking a lot about writing the way I usually think about writing. a mixture of anxiety and guilt which does no one any good. Least of all the reader as I proffer the hastily cobbled together nonsense in front of them. No siree Bob, for reasons too complex to go into, your humble correspondent has been thinking about writing more in terms of structure, word count, what precisely goes where. It's been an oddly liberating experience. To cut a long story short, I've been exploring the world of freelancing, which has led me down some odd paths and caused me to pick up some fairly arcane knowledge (go on, ask me about the likely direction of the price of silver). Not really as a money making exercise (spoiler alert, there isn't any), more as a thing to do of a morning when I've been woken up by the latest addition to the family at Coastal towers, and also just, y'know, to see.

Excuses, excuses

By way of a placeholder, this is an apology for the recent even more dearthy than usual dearth of plates. I may, just may, have bitten off a bit more than I can chew. Between the business, the family (including Albert, our one month old addition) a variety of freelancing things (that actually pay) and my writing (which, sadly, does not), not to mention an online course I rather foolishly signed up to (but which is certainly very interesting) poor old CB has been on the backburner a bit of late. Rather cautiously, I feel I may have turned a corner as regards keeping all the plates I currently have in the air spinning, and I hope to be back here fairly shortly. Do bear with me.

Is there a common denominator lower than lowest?

It's hard to recall a political race less edifying than the current run for the Republican leadership. As Ted Cruz and Donald Trump each try to out-offensive each other in a race to the very, very bottom it's easy to have a good old laugh at it. Those Americans eh? What'll they come up with next? Thanks for providing us with a quality chuckle. be it The candidates having a whose got the hottest wife contest. Terump lauding the size of his penis, Cruz suggesting that Muslim neighbourhoods in the US should "patrolled and secured" by polic. Trump's walll, Cruz's suggestion of carpet bombing ISIS (at which the Pentagon coughed and said well no, because that would be illegal), Trumps misogyny, Cruz's religious bigotry, take your pick. But, unfortunately, whilst it is kind of funny, the depressing reality is that this is the best the American right wing can come up with. What Matt, I hear you cry, dpressed about the quality of right wingers? But you'

The little regarded pigeon.

I have been thining about wood pigeons (and why not). I've often suspected that ubiquitous birds are under appreciated (see also starlings, most corvids), and I fear that the woodie has sufered from being tarred with the brush of the humdrum. But they do hold a special place in my heart. Living as I do on the edge of a town, close to farmland, woodies are a common sight to me. The farmlansd's the key point there, their success over the last couple of hundred years is tied to the expansion of arable agriculture, as an exclusively vegetetarian bird, increases in farming are verymuch to the wood pigeon's liking (if not the farmers). Indeed, two centuries ago they were considerably more scarce than today, if not exactly rare (the wide variety of old names for them implies a familiarity and a ubiquity: Dow, Stoggy, Culver, Culshat). The reason for my fondness is the implication of home, I work in the middle of the town, where there are feral pigeons aplenty, but not a woodie

Scof scoff trump snark

Oh it's a hoot, isn't it? what an hilarious attempt at "politics" the whole Donald Trump farrago is. Hawhaw, couldn't happen here. So on, so forth. Ah, the colonials, we chuckle, shaking our heads wisely and sadly over our breakfast kedgeree, sat as we are in the sceptred glory of misty blighty, with its politicians capable of talking in complete sentences. Fwawfwawfwaw, more pheasant please, Vicar. Thus proving the old adage that there's no bell-end like a smug bell-end, which I think is one of Alexander Pope's. Possibly the only thing less edifying than the Donald's rise to actual honest to godness contender has been the laughing at it. Yes, he's a horror. Yes, he's a racist. Yes, he's a grade-a moron who re-tweeted Mussolini. All these things are true. It is also true that if he'd simply put his fortune in a savings account he'd be a lot richer than he is now, so yes, he' s a failure as a businessman. Also true. But the rep

Getting back into it

I think I may have blogged about this before, but I can't find it anywhere. I strongly suspect that when I come to look back upon my life, I'll regard my twenties and thirties as wilderness years, of a sort. Not because I wasn't doing anything, far from it, I've been doing a bunch of stuff. Got married, bought a house, had kids, important stuff. But because I've spent that time working in catering, as floor staff for a bit and then a long stint in kitchens. I love what I do, and I'm pretty good at it, but the problem with feeding people for a living is that it's an absolute hoover of time. Sixty, seventy hour weeks are a normal state of affairs. It pretty much takes over your life. And by the time you get home there's no appetite to do anything other than collapse. Normal life largely goes by the wayside, what few speare hours are left are reserved for family (and there's never enough to do them justice). I should point out here that this is not

two weeks?

i don't know, you get yourself all geared up for blogging more regularly, finally start getting some sene fo routine about the thing, even get the paperowrk down to manageable elevels, and then the intenet goes down. And then the internet coes back but you're ill. and that, o my children is why I shall never be a famous writer. Because sometimes it's nicer to go "oh cobblers to this" and get an early night. That said, I have been doing a bit. There're a couple of new posts over at The armchair dissident , but as that's potry related it may not be fare for the standard coastalblog, but as proof that I haven't been entriely lazy, it'll have to do.

Oh, he's won again, has he?

What is it with underdogs? Or rather, what have we got against winners? I was reflecting on the yesterday morning whilst listening to Andy Murray succumb to yet another of his regular beatings from Novak Djokovic. I have only a passing interest in tennis, to be honest, but I'll pay attention from time to time. And I've paid enough attention to know that, whilst these two (and the fading Federer) are head and shoulders above the others in the game, the boy Novak has that little bit more head, that little bit more shoulder. So, it was unsurprising that, for all Murray's undoubted excellence and skill he was beaten. And the unsurprising bit was depressing, and I found myself growing irritated with Djokovic, words like "boring" and "robotic" started leaping to mind. Which is, of course, patently nonsense. he's an incredibly highly skilled athlete, a supreme performer in his field. It's not him that's boring, but the ineivitability of the outc

Outside the box

The problem I have with poetry is that there's just too bloody much of it. I am guilty of exacerbating this problem, I know, but to the best of my knowledge, no-one has yet died from an excess of verse, so it's probably pretty low down on my personal charge sheet. What I mean by there being too much is more that there's too much to keep track of. It's the sheer quantity being churned out at the minute which, in this age of print on demand and online publication making it easier than ever before to be published, also makes it easier than ever before to disappear into the white noise of millions of words. The sane response to this dizzying volume is to work out what you like early doors and just read round that area, because Lord knows it's hard enough to keep track just of that. Fairly early on in my writing career (Should probably have put 'career' in inverted commas) I came to realise that I enjoyed the stuff which could loosely be termed linguistically

A general lowering of expectations.

So "Tech Giant" (C all news outlets) Google have decided to do the right thing and pay back 130 million quid in backdated tax owing. they have also agreed to pay more in future. They got a bit huffy about the idea they'd been avoiding tax, simply saying that they were following the laws applicable at the time, in order to trouser the cash HMRC and HMG agreed not to laugh their heads off at this and everyone gets to save face all round. The depressing thing is that this is indeed, as a spoksamn for HMRC said "a result". It shouldn't be. That 130 million quid stretches over the last ten years, in 2013 alone Google generated 3.4 BILLION in sales. It's buttons. But it sounds like a nice number and everone can slap thheir backs and hopefully everyone will stop banging on about big companies not paying any sodding tax for a bit. It's a useful fig-leaf, HMG can point and say look! Google! Google csan go look! us! HMRC can go check us out with the fearless

You're making us look like dicks

I was reminded earlier this week of the title of this post, a line issued from the despairing lips of my wife a few years ago. There we were, idly leafing through the local paper when we saw some coverage of Ladies' Day at Aintree races, I recognised a couple of the girls. There was a tipsy quote from one of them: "we just want have fun and find some rich men to buy us champagne!" said (redacted). My wife shook her head sadly and uttered the immortsal phrase "See, you're ust making the rest of us look like dicks". And the reason I was reminded of this was the debate in parliament over whether or not we should allow Donald Trump into the country. Now, you can probably guess I'm not the world's biggest fan of The Donald. But nor am I a fan of taxpayer's money being wasted on a pointless debate the outcome of which will be completely ignored. And I'm even less of a fan that this complete and utter waste of everybody's time was occurring be

Not much of a public griever.

As you may have noticed, this Monday just gone saw the death of David Bowie. I believe it was mentioned in the news. Now, I'm not about to write a "What Bowie meant to me" piece. There have been rather a few too many of those clogging up the place of late, but his death did get me thinking. I was genuinely surprised (though I shouldn't have been, the man had form for keeping things under wraps), and briefly,well, not upset. That's too strong a word. Regretful, maybe. What a shame, I thought, the last couple of records were corkers, he probably had a lot left to give That sort of thing. And, being not entirely unacquainted with death myself I had a brief jolt of sympathy for his family, friends and loved ones. The sort you do when you hear anyone's died. Ah, that's a shame. I was less surprised by the wave of very public grieving that followed, and I'm afraid it mystifies me. I kind of expected it from 6 Music, and it was handy timing that Lauren La

The post that dare not speak its name

Ha, well, yes, it's New year's day, clearly. A day so heavily larded with truisms and expectation around fresh starts and resolution that it seems to me to be a cliche to be writing a blog post. "oh, New Year is it? writing a blog post are we? Resolution, is it?" No, a resolution it is most assuredly not. I've never been much of a believer in resolutions, designed as they are to be broadcast and shared with the world, saying loudly this is what I'm going to do, one becomes a hostage to fortune, particularly in these social media-saturated days, I tend towards the bleief tht if you're giong to do something, just go and do it. telling people afterwards is understandable, but telling people before you've actually done it? Only works when you're trying to get sponsorship money. So this isn't a resolution. But it is a blog post. Happy New Year.