The Telegraph is claiming that they know exactly which films were watched too:
The films were viewed at 11.18pm on April 1 and 11.19pm on April 6, while Miss Smith was staying in London. On the evenings in question, Television X, one of nine adult channels available under the terms of their Virgin Media cable television contract, was screening features called “Raw Meat 3” and “By Special Request”.
The Torygraph hacks have better access to TVX’s schedules than we do, but if those are indeed the films in question, there’s pretty much nothing about them on the internet. James Delingpole, also at the Telegraph, digs up a copy of Raw Meat 3 – a rather unlikely-looking gay flick (as one commenter notes: “This is not journalism – it is a stinking cess-pit on the site of what used to be a great national newspaper”, and he’s not wrong). And Playboy TV responds by offering the Jacqui Smith VIP Package: “The Cabinet isn’t the only thing that benefits from a shuffle every now and then”.
Of course, there is actually a serious side to this. As El Reg notes:
What cannot be overlooked is her serious crusade against the adult industry and all its works. Along the way, she has not been shy to attack the presumed consequences of pornography and links between porn and the acting out of sexual fantasy.
What’s particularly galling is that they’ve done this without a shred of evidence as to the links between watching pornography and taking personal action, and misapplied laws which, as we’ve noted elsewhere, could easily be used to attack all kinds of literature, including our own.
Cracking down in public on what most people do in the privacy of their own home is not a new trick for government, although it illuminates the double standards that underpin MP’s attitudes to pretty much everything, including their expenses. Freeing up the porn, and tightening up on elected officials seems to be a much better course of action.
There they are
drooping over the breakfast plates,
folding in their sad wing,
and only the night before
there they were
playing the banjo.
Once more the day’s light comes
with its immense sun,
its mother trucks,
its engines of amputation.
Whereas last night
the cock knew its way home,
as stiff as a hammer,
battering in with all
its awful power.
Today it is tender,
a small bird,
as soft as a baby’s hand.
She is the house.
He is the steeple.
When they fuck they are God.
When they break away they are God.
When they snore they are God.
In the morning they butter the toast.
They don’t say much.
They are still God.
All the cocks of the world are God,
blooming, blooming, blooming
into the sweet blood of woman.
Anne Sexton (born Anne Gray Harvey) (1928—1974, Weston) was an American poet and writer. The Fury of Cocks was written in 1960.
If you’ve got a suggestion for Monday’s dirty poem, don’t hesitate to get in touch…
Nothing says you love a book quite like getting it tattooed on your own body. The Contrariwise blog of literary and musical tattoos contains some god-awful offences against the eye (the misspellings are particularly amusing) but it also showcases a number which raise a smile.
Our favourite is probably the above, taken from Molly Bloom’s ecstatic, breathless climax in Ulysses:
“…I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.”
There are plenty more on the site, and bonus points if you can identify the sources of the following without following the links:
Lord she’s gone done left me
done packed up and split
and I with no way to make her
come back and everywhere the world is bare
bright bone white crystal sand glistens
dope death dead dying and jiving drove
her away made her take her laughter and her smiles
and her softness and her midnight sighs—
Fuck Coltrane and music and clouds drifting in the sky
fuck the sea and trees and the sky and birds
and alligators and all the animals that roam the earth
fuck marx and mao fuck fidel and nkrumah and
democracy and communism fuck smack and pot
and red ripe tomatoes fuck joseph fuck mary fuck
god jesus and all the disciples fuck fanon nixon
and malcom fuck the revolution fuck freedom fuck
the whole muthafucking thing
all i want now is my woman back
so my soul can sing
Jake Arnott is one of our favourite authors. If you haven’t read his Long Firm trilogy, or the Angry Brigade/glam rock saga Johnny Come Home, check them out.
His next novel, The Devil’s Paintbrush, is due later this year, and it revolves around another Bookkake favourite: Aleister Crowley, the Great Beast. Here’s Arnott discussing Crowley and his 1903 meeting with another scandalous figure of the time, the alleged pederast Major-General Sir Hector MacDonald. Sounds good to us.
Edward Upward, who died in January aged 105, was an intimate of Isherwood, Auden and Spender in University days. With Isherwood, he wrote the strange and fantastic Montmere stories, finally published by Enitharmon in the 90s. As Nicholas Wroe wrote in the Guardian: “It was Stephen Spender who recalled that as a young man Auden was, for him, the “highest peak”. For Auden himself it was Isherwood, and for Isherwood “there was a still further peak” – Upward.”
I’ve come, obviously, rather late to Upward, but there’s much to enjoy in the first volume of his now out-of-print masterpiece The Spiral Ascent. In The Thirties chronicles the the spiritual, political and sexual journey of the young Alan Sebrill – that familiar literary figure of his time, the restless poet. Sebrill is enthused by the same left-wing conciousness that drove Upward himself into the Communist Party, where, unlike many of his bourgeois Marxist fellow-travellers, he stayed until he was expelled for “deviating” from the party line. Much of The Spiral Ascent is autobiographical, and its documentary style, popular in its pre-war setting, did not endear it to the critics of the Sixties, setting a pattern that saw Upward fade into almost total obscurity until a last creative burst in his eighties brought a slight reassessment to his place in English literature.
There’s almost a strange echo of the present, reading In The Thirties now. The Marxist analysis of the lead-up to the Second World War – the great imperial powers, forcing the workers into another bloody horror to secure their own resources – and the scoffing reception of most of the populace, rings strangely familiar:
Alan laughed, perhaps a little too eagerly. Aldershaw went on less genially, ‘What is this Educational Workers’ League of yours?’
‘It’s the organisation which is calling the meeting, ‘ Alan said non-committally.
‘Yes, I grasped that. But who exactly are they? What are their political affiliations?’
‘They’re a group of teachers – women as well as men, so they couldn’t call themselves schoolmasters even if they wanted to – who are interested in the present economic situation.’ Alan tried hard not to sound disingenuous.
Aldershaw gave him a wily and sceptical smile. ‘I see that the subject of discussion at the meeting is advertised as being “Teachers and the Crisis”.’ He looked distastefully at the leaflet. ‘Don’t you think “crisis” is rather a big word?’
‘It’s rather a big thing. Nearly three million unemployed in Britain, ten million in America, five million in Germany, and so on all over the world.’
‘I don’t deny that large numbers of men are for various reasons out of work. What I’m objecting to is the putting about of catchwords like “the Crisis”. If they’re repeated often enough they can help to produce the very condition which their propagators assume to be already existing.’
‘So you would say that the crisis, in so far as there is one, is psychologically caused?’
‘Partly, and partly it’s caused by the fact that we’ve been progressing too fast and have been enjoying a higher standard of living than we can as yet afford. But if by the word “crisis” you mean to suggest, as I suspect you do, that our economic system’ – Aldershaw’s tone here was sardonic, as though he disbelieved that the economic system was anything other than a phrase – ‘is heading towards a final collapse, then I deny there’s a crisis in that sense at all. Though no doubt the organizers of your meeting fervently hope for one in that sense.’
Alan ignored Aldershaw’s last sentence, and said, ‘I’ve read somewhere that business men in America are wearing badges in their buttonholes with the inscription “We don’t talk Crisis”. That seems to me complete superstition. Psychological factors may help to accelerate the crisis, of course; but they could never be its primary cause.’
I must get one of those badges. I disagree utterly with the obituary in the Telegraph, which portrays Upward as a wasted talent, and lean more towards Stephen Spender’s judgement that, of all the Oxbridge generation of the 1930s, Upward was “the one whose life has been most in keeping with his principles and ideals, the most deserving, as such, of being honoured.”
In the park near my house, there is an enclosure of Red Deer. Last year, a number of them were moved to a nature reserve in the Scottish highlands to give them a bit more breathing space. The park keepers posted laminated notices explaining what had happened, alongside photos of the reserve: a pristine island at the mouth of a wide, blue sea loch. You could see the city-dwellers who passed by giving the image a wistful look, wondering if perhaps they too could be relocated. This poem, unrelated to that little story, is really rather special.
and then to lie silently
like deer tracks in the
freshly-fallen snow beside
the one you love.
I’m sorry, I know it’s not good enough. I’ve been rubbish. I’ve got reviews to write up of a couple of excellent recent(ish) novels and some great observations about THE CRISIS but somehow time has flown (yes, those crested grebes are mating, that’s the reference*), and I have done none of these things and it’s already Friday afternoon. Shame, shame upon me.
Instead, lets quickly go over some of the things we’ve learned and/or come across this week. The Bökship is a market stall on Broadway Market in my manor of Hackney, London, and this is its blog. It’s full of lovely art and artists books and magazines and things. It’s also now got a permanent space on B. Market in the form of Donlon Books which looks equally lovely and I’ll be popping along to soon. Since we’re being all Hackney, along with everyone else in celebration of Iain Sinclair’s new book, we should also mention another excellent Hackney bookshop, Pages, on Lower Clapton. It’s quite the place. Hackney that is, and everything within it.
While we’re talking about Science: this question came up. Is semen a colloid? I know, but. It’s science, and Bookkake-ish. What do you want. So Wikipedia has it that colloids are suspensions with particles in the range 10-9 – 10-6 m. And human sperm, also according to the Mighty W, is 5×10-6m by 3×10-6 m with a tail 50×10-6 m long. So it sounds like it isn’t. But the figures vary, and we’d like more opinions please. (No, I’m not going to tell you who asked.)
Finally, do make time this weekend to check out Hark! A Vagrant, a wonderful comic series and illustrations about fops and dandies and old gents and suchlike, with a website coming soon (again). Courtesy of the newly-discovered bookn3rd blog, where we’ll also be hanging out for a while.
* Bonus points to those who can spot the other reference.