Mind you…

November 25, 2007 at 8:38 pm (AWL, voltairespriest, whisky, wine)

… there are better things to do than watching apparatchiks lying about decent people on blogs, ya know 😉

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Poseur who could write

November 12, 2007 at 12:52 am (Jim D, literature, whiskey, whisky, wild man, wine, women)

“America is a hurricane, and the only people who do not hear the sound are those fortunate if incredibly stupid and smug white Protestants who live in the centre, in the serene eye of the big wind.”

The late Norman Mailer was a poseur, a charlatan, a misogynist, a wife-stabber, champion of a murderer,  and an all round arse hole (that’s asshole to you yanks): a lot of the time he wasn’t even a particularly good writer. His real role was as a sort of sub-Hemingway boozer, womaniser and (supposed) “tough guy”.

Most of his novels were garbage, with the notable exception of his 1948  World War II masterpiece The Naked and the Dead, which George Orwell considered the best book to have come out of that war. What came afterwards were mainly let-downs. He was, however, an excellent journalist and the pioneer of the “new journalism” usually associated with Tom Wolfe. And (when he wasn’t trying to be a “tough guy”), he could be a very funny guy:

According to Vanessa Thorpe in the Observer, “Only this year, as he waited to take part in a Q&A interview to be carried by Paris Review, he told how he had encountered  (Philip) Roth at a urinal during the memorial service for a mutual friend.

“The two heavyweights  discussed their shared inability to control their bladders. ‘Phil, sometimes I have to go into a telephone kiosk to pee,’ Mailer commented. ‘You just can’t wait at my age.’

“‘I know’, said Roth, ‘it’s the same with me.’

“‘Well, Mailer told Roth, 74, ‘you always were precocious’.”


The Hitch, whilst fully aware of Mailer’s shortcomings, takes a rather more forgiving view:

“But all this bravado and bullshit and delinquency, including the near-fatal stabbing of one of his wives, only seemed to increase the number of people – including the stabbed wife herself – who found fresh ways of forgiving him. Even Gore Vidal, not a professional forgiver, was once gruffly affectionate about him in my hearing. A slightly schmaltzy way of phrasing this would be to say that Norman Mailer was always somehow life-affirming, and that his justly-famous cocky grin was something that even his enemies had to envy.” 

Perhaps more surprisingly, Hitch thinks the 1991 Harlot’s Ghost was “his masterpiece.”

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A great honour, Ma’am

November 4, 2007 at 1:40 pm (blogging, blogosphere, good people, Jim D, left, perversity, trivia, whisky, wine, women)

At Last! Someone thinks I’m worth interviewing!

As The Lad Himself would say, “philosphical gems, matey.”

I wish it was true about the groupies, though.

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The Nectar of the Gods

October 21, 2007 at 6:11 pm (beer, voltairespriest, whiskey, whisky, wild man, wine)

Fuck you, teetotallers! What’s more, people enjoy it all over the world. Here’s Yvonne Chaka telling you like it is.

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Stalin’s Iron Lung

October 15, 2007 at 3:07 am (blogging, blogosphere, Blogroll, cults, Feminism, Galloway, internet, left, Respect, sectarianism, SWP, wankers, wine)

Just what is the current relationship between Seymour’s Lenin’s Tomb (a site that we link to; just like we link to Harry’s Place), and the Socialist Workers Party? We really should be told. And so should… John “G” (we’re keeping his real name secret in order to protect him from victimization, you understand).

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Jukebox Sunday mornin’

September 30, 2007 at 12:55 am (jazz, Jim D, truth, Uncategorized, whisky, wine)

Just to lighten everybody’s day, here is Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five: a half-way house between swing and rock’n roll. They were very popular on black juke-boxes in the late 1940’s, which just goes to show that popular taste has not improved in the intervening years:

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You know your life sucks when…

September 2, 2007 at 11:08 pm (trivia, voltairespriest, wine)

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket… you’re sat in front of your laptop blogging on a Sunday night, watching a repeat of Beverly Hills Cop on ITV2. When your world has shrunk to the point of being encapsulated by the walk from home to work with a stop off at the supermarket or (if you’re super-duper lucky) at the pub where the bored barman will give you an overpriced Belgian beer to sup in the rain under a canopy. Such is the depth and breadth of life when you find yourself living alone in an inner city. Fuckin’ bangin’. All I need is to own my own house and have seven cats, and I’ll properly have turned into a middle-aged-woman stereotype overnight. Well, can’t afford the house or the cats, so that’s not a danger.

I was going to write something witty and caustic about the Galloway vs SWP tussle that’s going on at the moment, or something perhaps a bit deeper and more interesting about the significance of Abdullah Gul’s successful election as Turkish President, but frankly I can’t be arsed. I’m having a miserable, teddies-out-of-the-pram moment, and therefore feel like being self-indulgent. So, back to me.

Whilst enjoying a self-enforced break in the tedium of watching weekend TV and eating ready meals earlier on, I was sat in the garden of my local pub (ok, the beer was German not Belgian, but I was under a canopy and it did start to rain) reading the Spectator. Not the usual journal of choice of the left-wing activist I grant you, and of course as one who is periodically accused of being a right-wing libertarian with left-wing mates, I am acutely aware that such reading material may add grist to the mill. However, I like it, it has humorous political articles and a wine column that isn’t written by Roger Scruton, so you lot can fuck off. Anyway, I came to an article by Lloyd Evans about “On Raglan Road”, which as you’d expect is a play about Patrick Kavanagh.

For those of you who don’t know, Kavanagh was a piss-poor 20th Century Irish poet, who spent much of his life bumbling around Dublin’s pubs – as Evans puts it “a shambolic, repellent figure in his knackered spectacles, squelching shoes and moths’ nest jumper… cadging drinks, lusting after female students and cursing the reputations of talents greater than his own”. One of those whom Kavanagh frequently cursed was the great (in my opinion, though here Evans and I part company) Brendan Behan, whom he loathed with a passion even beyond the other’s death. Sadly Kavanagh was not  really gifted with the ability to curse in a funny way, reduced to calling Behan “evil incarnate” whereas the more fleet-of-tongue Behan said of Kavanagh that “The only decent thing you ever wrote was a cheque that didn’t bounce”. Kavanagh apparently ends his days in the play sprawled on a park bench, swigging from a hip flask.

I looked at the article, and it looked back at me. And I suddenly realised the potential dangers of letting boredom turn into bitterness. Of course, introversion has a role to play here, as (every snake oil purveying new age therapist will tell you) does sharing your feelings with the world. The former will tend to exacerbate a sense of misery – and thus the likelihood of self-destructive results. The latter may not make you feel better, but at least means that your friends get to share the joy. Or so I learned on the Empathic Hippy Bollocks 101 course that helps me so much in my job.

So, motivated by a desire not to end up like Patrick Kavanagh, I decided to share my feelings with you, gentle reader. To cap it all, this post comes to you courtesy of the wonders of a knuckle-dragger of an internet connection, whizzy broadband having departed the flat at much the same time as yours truly began living alone. And yes I know, the mere fact that I even care about that last bit just goes to show what a sad fucker I have become.

Sometimes life just sucks, no doubt and no getting away from it.

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Motorists of the World, Recoil!

July 21, 2007 at 11:24 am (voltairespriest, whisky, wild man, wine)

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketIn another shock conversion from a life-long commitment to public transportation, I’m delighted to announce that Jim has passed his driving test. It’s an achievement that he’s already apprehensive about as he’s beginning to realise that sometimes he’ll now have to be the guy who says “not for me thanks, I’m driving” – a phrase he didn’t previously realise existed in the English lexicon. He’ll also be chauffeuring people to political events and jazz gigs before you know it. I’m told that there were tears at the Bells distillery and cheers at the J2O factory. Either way, well done Jim, and it’s a testament to your will to succeed that you managed it! Congratulations, commiserations, or general expressions of terror and joy in the comments box at your leisure.

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Public Transport Sucks

July 21, 2007 at 10:13 am (hell, voltairespriest, wine)

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketIt’s official. I spent many years as a defender of public transport systems and as a righteous sneerer at those who drive cars. But after yesterday I think I’ve reached my limit. Yesterday afternoon I was trying to make a simple journey from Birmingham to Coventry which ususally takes about 25 minutes on an intercity train.

I arrived at Birmingham New Street station to find it crawling with police and luminous-jacketed station staff. The crowd in there resembled feeding time at the zoo, as besuited commuters bellowed inanities into their mobile phones (“HI, GEORGE? HI, IT’S ME, YEAH, I’M RUNNING LATE YEAH” etc). An announcer broadcast a message from “all the train companies” apologising for the cancellation of ALL (yes, all) services to various cities, including Coventry. Services were in such utter chaos that even the usual chugging old replacement buses were not laid on. As a consequence the (very) slow local bus service was grossly overloaded, with people jostling in queues unlike anything I’ve seen since I lived in Turkey. The reason for this? “Severe weather”.

“Severe Weather”? It was fucking raining! FUCKING RAINING! God forbid that it should ever hail or snow… I mean seriously, how much rain does it take to wash a god-knows-how-many-tonne train off the rails? Rather more than we got in the West Midlands yesterday, I reckon.

Anyhow, I ended up getting home, in a cab, which cost 25 quid. A bill which I shall be sending to the poor little bunnies at Central Trains who were scared to get their feet wet yesterday. Absolutely hopeless, the lot of you.

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Something a bit different

July 14, 2007 at 9:49 pm (music, voltairespriest, wine)

Dunno why I like this so much, but I do. Possibly because it’s such a striking contrast with the (brilliant) original version. And besides, it makes a change from talking about some goon beating up a fellow left winger at Marxism.

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