29 September 2011


my birthday - all by a stream. I realise Rachel is there, and so ask her how she is doing. Losing things in water.

Later, parents beside me in bed. I hear my mum say, 'I don't care,' and I go downstairs. Talk to Mark Phillips as I hear the bed knock against the wall.

Angus presses me over the comment 'I'm glad the baby's alright.' Why wouldn't it be alright, he wants to know.

27 September 2011

Two Dreams


Pawel is biding my time
as I gather by his presence
that he is still in his previous position


William horseback to royal wedding
Joe passes, we josh, with a hand raised in hailing
Offscreen a heavy thud
His play-acting found a stone slab to break his fall
He sits up, eyes scrunched, blood being rung through
his short dark hair

08 January 2011


Inside, up above bagpiper in rain with two others, one a boy who jumps up against the other. Proceed, to church. I go down there, up fire escape to door, go to toilet beside door. Slip latch as someone climbs stairs. ‘It’s Matt,’ I say, tissue in the bowl. Debbie’s profile against glass.

Walk down street, see Dan pass, white-haired in functional blue (?) mac.

Think, ‘ah he is avoiding people at church.’



‘You can’t make eye contact’

I am in a double bed. Through the hedge of thorn separating my

neighbour and I, I see a dark haired woman masturbate sat up on the bed.

Then he is there, beside him his two women. The

dark haired is all shaved armpit and top lip, the blonde

a counterpoint.

They disappear, and my lesson is learnt. I flick my eyes

through the thorn for a millisecond, no more.

With my failing eyes, subtlety escapes me

these days.


Fires below music store(s) (subterranean cellar stores). Heat. Fat proprietors lie feet up, above beams about to give. Above ground smoke rises from drains.


Jon, Nik tableted like spider’s prey pushed along pipework like gut and shat out. Fear to observe this.


After reading, ‘Alex wants you to read...’ Detritus of flyers on ground. A man holds camera. I hold tissue behind my back. ‘Okay,’ he says ‘for tomorrow.’ Walk out, back to classroom, with girl. Pass a hospital bed, pass Miffy wallpaper and baby car chairs on sideboards. Realise we are one floor down.


Gillian Welch harmonising with David Rawlings

This link is to a short live set from Gillian Welch and David Rawlings including the beautiful 'Ruby' which channels 'Rudy (A Message To You)' by the Specials, Steely Dan's 'Ricki Don't Lose that Number' and Dylan's rarely-mentioned 'Hazel,' all somehow layered with a Seventies' feel in those close harmonies.

Welch and Rawlings are two members of Old Crow Medicine Show, and while I'm not completely convinced by the band on studio recordings, live they are not to be missed. Ten years' touring have paid off, and songs like 'My Good Gal' have you singing along on first listening. Add covers of Neil Young, Hank Williams, The Band and Bright Eyes and wonder at how much pleasure is being missed in singing along to traditional songs.
The Fall, Electric Ballroom, Camden 23 November 2010

It does good things to you, fronting the Gorillaz before filled arenas. ‘It was the glitter frieze!’ Two nights prior to tonight’s concert in Camden, The Fall played Switzerland alongside The Residents. And, as the placard-bearers outside the venue urging Don’t Fall For It would have the band reconsider, The Fall are scheduled to play a concert in Israel in 2011. Whether a direct result of this flurry of activity or not, Smith seems confident and, for at least four long moments, in complete control.


Queuing outside the venue for half an hour means missing the beginning of their set, but French/US support band Paris Suit Yourself are interesting: tall female bassist; suited drummer; toned dreadlocked male vocalist and a stick-thin guitarist/keyboardist thrown in for good measure.

For all their disparate elements (ska, heavy metal, prog) it’s original – in that here is a band really playing live - the guitarist picking rough-sounding scales on the guitar, the vocalist lifting his arms to signal the rest of the band up the ante. The way the guitarist appears to kiss the bassist after the gig. I’m interested in this band.

There are moments of calm, including a section in which the drummer plays fills which could have come from ‘Petty Thief Lout’. ‘This is our last song’ says the keyboardist, and someone shouts ‘Good!’ He looks genuinely surprised. ‘Are you kidding?’

First Moment

November saw the re-release of 1984 Beggars Banquet album The Wonderful and Frightening World of ... which includes two songs named after Fall stalwarts Craig Scanlon and Steve Hanley. So it’s a reassuring sign of continuity to hear Mark write a song with the apparent title ‘Greenway,’ in questionable tribute to his current guitarist, Peter Greenway. The song in question is the highlight of the gig. Full of recited (not read) lyrics, it appears to document a visit to a hotel room where the CD player he’d arranged to be waiting for him hadn’t been delivered: ‘There’s only so much you can take!’ Think a Salfordian Highlands. Let’s hope this is caught in the studio.

Second Moment

After the first section of a lovely ‘Weather Report’, Mark stands aside to let the band take the limelight, before walking back, raising his hand and the song doubling its tempo, as he repeats ‘You gave me the best years of my life.’ It demonstrates an attentiveness to the pace of the gig, especially as the second part previously echoed the closing section of ‘Cowboy George’. The crowd go wild, and Mark tosses his mic into the audience, relishing the mayhem.

Third Moment

‘Cowboy George.’ Apparently named after an A-Team episode guest-starring Boy George, Mark has explained in interviews how this is nothing to do with George Bush. Except, in the second section tonight, he reads new lyrics off sheets of paper from a red carrier: ‘I hate his guts. It was like a musical show. It was like a musical show. A stage-craft.’

Fourth Moment

‘What About Us’. Lest I forget, this song, with its chant of ‘Shipman,’ when broadcast in session in 2004, raised hairs on the back of my neck. Among the usual lyrics, Mark explains how in Germany he could get hold of any drug he wanted, but in Britain, nothing.

It is striking, among other things, that here is a track nobody but Smith could write. A lyric beginning ‘I am a rabbit from East Germany,’ punctuated by Elena Poulous's ‘hop hop hop’s, ambiguously referencing a modern-day demon in the public imagination: ‘there was a doctor dishing out drugs...’

Support 2

Second support is V.J. artist Safi Sniper, a little over-exposed on the Fall circuit perhaps (he’s been supporting them since at least 2005.) At moments he is like a visual version of The Field – Barbara Streisand caught mid-wail, merging with a young Michael Jackson. One of his images is a sweating Elvis Presley struggling through the climax of ‘Always on My Mind’ (‘Fat Elvis!’ someone shouts, and we can envisage Michael Jackson’s demise beyond his childhood appearance in the Jackson Five.) In his eyes, sweat and weight Elvis recalls Johnny Cash. But we also see Mark Smith in there.

Except, here Smith is performing the closing song, a cover of the Big Bopper track ‘White Lightning’:

T. Men, G. Men, Revenue too

Searching for the place where he made his brew

They were looking trying to book him

but Papa kept cooking it –

White Lightning!

Tonight, sporting shoulder length hair, M.E.S. more resembles Gene Vincent, who also played exceptional Rock and Roll to the faithful well beyond his commercial heyday. Somehow, Mark has come through the disarray of the Nineties (‘I’ve had so many problems in the last 20 years with groups’ he deadpanned to Mike Joyce in a radio interview earlier this year) through sheer self-belief perhaps, and emerged with vision completely intact.

Alongside ‘White Lightning,’ sure-fire crowd-pleasers ‘Sparta’ and ‘Strychnine’ are lapped up by the mosh-pit. Smith pleases both camps – tonight I opt for the Stewart Lee chin-scratching, watching from the balcony, though I’ve often been among the ones jumping about at the front.

‘Who took the batteries out of my cassette player?

They have no respect.

They try to drown me out.’

One more point to close. ‘Muzorewi’s Daughter,’ a track from 1982’s Dragnet is performed – a reference to the Pope’s recent visit perhaps, or the result of his recent comments on contraception, or none of these things.

The National, O2 Academy, Brixton 29 November 2010


Anyone’s Ghost

Mistaken for Strangers

Slow Show

Squalor Victoria

Afraid of Everyone

Bloodbuzz Ohio

Lit Up

Conversation 16

Little Faith


Green Gloves


Apartment Story


Fake Empire


Mr November

Terrible Love

Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks (acoustic)

26 August 2010


We're both Aries, so we crack heads
so I have this dream

One day the waves were still - the sea a lake

Stand there fighting fire

the hand clenches tight if the palm burns -
the back of the hand will pull away

the secondary escape route is the most important

Kronenbourg - do you want to make this your last?

In her reverie

as her eyes flick open
like the wishbone of her hips

Will Self for stamp royalty
wouldn't need to turn his face to be in profile

The girl with a rose
in moccassins lost in thought
brims, overspilling

How is it possible to shed so much
pubic hair in a urinal?

Woke up my face in scratches

use your mint gel my rock salt is
had to use your mint, my rock salt is expired

L'Etranger by Peter Gallagher
Fluke's Cradle restaurant, Camden

1st Person, Singular

The Deviants

wisdom of crowds territory

On reading a hardback because the paperback isn't available yet

success by a thousand cuts

serie laicite

Coffee mackerel beer

in the boathouse

My eyes are fading like the semi-precious stones prized from the wall of the bar

Don't smile till it is accomplished

Names for near-extinct animals - Queen's executioner, (whiskers, dedicated helpline)

You will change + v exciting +
You will leave not as you came in - I knew it wouldn't happen

emotions can't lie - they are a shortcut
feeling comes first - as an adolescent I knew that

Women's hands are usually warm so they can't make sweat

I brought you back here then turned you down

Lonely people dream of ants - they move in groups

My enemy's enemy is my friend

Pacemaker - symbollic

Proverbs 6:4

Your tongue got my sister pregnant

dam - symbol

The Tutor - of course, I've never done a workshop exercise in my life,
do what I say, not what I do.

08 July 2010

Decided to take it slowly with Gabbi.

Since she likes literature, I eased her in with a couple ones with MES' best lyrics, as well as a couple of more observational/humorous ones.

It was working well - she was taking an interest and wanting to hear more.

Then one night, after having a few too many, I went rushing in...

...and stuck on Cerebral Caustic.

The damage was done and now The Fall are viewed with suspicion


From a post on the Fall discussions board titled: My girlfriend told me "It's me or The Fall", Sadly I had to let her go... Post by: Country Folk