If you are unaware of the existence of the fine and upstanding Last Tuesday Society, then you are probably innocently yet regretfully unaware that they recently opened a shop in Cambridge Heath, London. It is a strange and magical place, and we urge you to visit it.
And we are pleased to add further to your knowledge by announcing that as of today, the Last Tuesday Society Shop stocks the full range of Bookkake titles for your delight and edification. So there: hie ye to Mare Street.
I have been somewhat obsessed with the eccentric figure of Walking Stewart for a number of years, since first encountering him in some dusty library, at the unpopular end of De Quincey’s “Collected Works”.
A strange, liminal figure, Stewart seems to stalk the margins of the Nineteenth Century, his own, multitudinous, works forgotten, but his footsteps echoing through the recollections of his contemporaries. I’ve wanted to do something with him for ages.
One of the odd qualities attributed to Stewart was his ubiquity: a perceived ability to be in more than one place at a time. Following a lifetime of walking across the known world, his final years in London were spent in seemingly unending peregrinations across the city, and more than one commentator recorded encountering him in impossible positions: sat steadfast upon Westminster Bridge, and minutes later, as steadfast upon a bench in St James’ Park. De Quincey himself records passing him at Somerset House, and then overtaking him again on Tottenham Court Road – despite having taken the shortest route through Covent Garden.
Drawing upon OpenStreetMap, styled with Cloudmade to resemble antique atlases, I collected these routes and anecdotes, and present them here in newspaper form. But the newspaper is a foldable, pliable thing, just as Stewart himself seemed to fold the cityscape around himself. And so we have maps that can fold upon themselves to delineate not only the narrator’s journey, but that of Stewart himself. Folded correctly, the maps reveal how Stewart breaks the margins of the map to travel, invisibly, through space and time.
There is also an introductory essay – a meditation on ubiquity, immanence and time travel, drawing on Stewart’s life, Jewish mysticism, Deleuzian metaphysics and special relativity – together with selected quotes and sources.
The first edition of the newspaper is produced in a limited run of five copies. Following investigation and use, there may be a second edition at some future point in time – or space…
Meeting once a month, with Pat Califia‘s Macho Sluts as the next book up for discussion, this sounds like too much fun. We shall have to get ourselves down there, and if you’re London-based, why don’t you?
A wonderful night was had by all at Monday’s Book Club Boutique – the 10th – in Soho. Salena Godden, first lady of all that is cool and literary, put together an excellent evening focussing on the London Short Story.
First up was Will Ashon, author of Clear Water and Heritage, who read ‘Taking The Biscuit’, a strange office fantasy about a cruel yet accurate Hob-Nob. Yes. He was followed by Matthew de Abaitua, author of the excellent The Red Men, a novel you must read if you haven’t. Matthew’s unduly curtailed story took up the tale of North London’s Dinner Party Wars, a Ballardian exercise in gourmets and blunderbusses. We hope that the full version sees the light of day somewhere, some time, soon. Lana Citron rounded off the first half with a dirty poem and some musings from her first novel Sucker.
After the break it was the turn of Salena herself, as well as the night’s compére Tony White, reading from his steampunk short Albertopolis Disparu. Albertopolis was of course what I meant to write about when I wrote about Babbage last week, and you should track down a copy (or download it here [PDF]). Tony’s the author of old Bookkake favourite Foxy-T, as well as the even older favourites Satan! Satan! Satan!, Road Rage! and Charlie Uncle Norfolk Tango – and he edited Serpent’s Tail’s classic Britpulp! anthology, which pretty much got us into all this in the first place. It was that kind of night.
Finishing up was Mark Waugh, reading from Bubble Entendre, his new work for Stewart Home’s Book Works imprint Semina, and you can read the two of them in conversation here for an insight into what the hell is going on. We’re huge fans of Stewart’s ongoing Semina project – Bridget Penney’s Index was one of the highlights of last year – and we look forward to more to come.
Of course, none of that covers the beer drunk, but hey, we’ll just have to head back for future weekly installments, including but not limited to a Waugh vs. Fitzgerald Pink Gin Party, a beer bash for Bukowski, and The Queer Book Club Boutique for Gay Pride. See you there. (Take it away, Salena: …)
The Weekend took me to town: I wandered down the Charing Cross Road to see my friends at Any Amount of Books, Watkins and Red Snapper, alongside St Martin’s-in-the-Fields and across Trafalgar Square before, passing beneath Admiralty Arch, I found myself on the edges of St James’ Park. Which of course reminded me of Rochester…
A Ramble in St. James’s Park
Much wine had passed, with grave discourse
Of who fucks who, and who does worse
(Such as you usually do hear
From those that diet at the Bear),
When I, who still take care to see
Drunkenness relieved by lechery,
Went out into St. James’s Park
To cool my head and fire my heart.
But though St. James has th’ honor on ‘t,
‘Tis consecrate to prick and cunt.
There, by a most incestuous birth,
Strange woods spring from the teeming earth;
For they relate how heretofore,
When ancient Pict began to whore,
Deluded of his assignation
(Jilting, it seems, was then in fashion),
Poor pensive lover, in this place
Would frig upon his mother’s face;
Whence rows of mandrakes tall did rise
Whose lewd tops fucked the very skies.
Each imitative branch does twine
In some loved fold of Aretine,
And nightly now beneath their shade
Are buggeries, rapes, and incests made.
Unto this all-sin-sheltering grove
Whores of the bulk and the alcove,
Great ladies, chambermaids, and drudges,
The ragpicker, and heiress trudges.
Carmen, divines, great lords, and tailors,
Prentices, poets, pimps, and jailers,
Footmen, fine fops do here arrive,
And here promiscuously they swive.
Along these hallowed walks it was
That I beheld Corinna pass.
Whoever had been by to see
The proud disdain she cast on me
Through charming eyes, he would have swore
She dropped from heaven that very hour,
Forsaking the divine abode
In scorn of some despairing god.
But mark what creatures women are:
How infinitely vile, when fair!
Three knights o’ the’ elbow and the slur
With wriggling tails made up to her.
The first was of your Whitehall blades,
Near kin t’ th’ Mother of the Maids;
Graced by whose favor he was able
To bring a friend t’ th’ Waiters’ table,
Where he had heard Sir Edward Sutton
Say how the King loved Banstead mutton;
Since when he’d ne’er be brought to eat
By ‘s good will any other meat.
In this, as well as all the rest,
He ventures to do like the best,
But wanting common sense, th’ ingredient
In choosing well not least expedient,
Converts abortive imitation
To universal affectation.
Thus he not only eats and talks
But feels and smells, sits down and walks,
Nay looks, and lives, and loves by rote,
In an old tawdry birthday coat.
The second was a Grays Inn wit,
A great inhabiter of the pit,
Where critic-like he sits and squints,
Steals pocket handkerchiefs, and hints
From ‘s neighbor, and the comedy,
To court, and pay, his landlady.
The third, a lady’s eldest son
Within few years of twenty-one
Who hopes from his propitious fate,
Against he comes to his estate,
By these two worthies to be made
A most accomplished tearing blade.
One, in a strain ‘twixt tune and nonsense,
Cries, “Madam, I have loved you long since.
Permit me your fair hand to kiss”;
When at her mouth her cunt cries, “Yes!”
In short, without much more ado,
Joyful and pleased, away she flew,
And with these three confounded asses
From park to hackney coach she passes.
So a proud bitch does lead about
Of humble curs the amorous rout,
Who most obsequiously do hunt
The savory scent of salt-swoln cunt.
Some power more patient now relate
The sense of this surprising fate.
Gods! that a thing admired by me
Should fall to so much infamy.
Had she picked out, to rub her arse on,
Some stiff-pricked clown or well-hung parson,
Each job of whose spermatic sluice
Had filled her cunt with wholesome juice,
I the proceeding should have praised
In hope sh’ had quenched a fire I raised.
Such natural freedoms are but just:
There’s something generous in mere lust.
But to turn a damned abandoned jade
When neither head nor tail persuade;
To be a whore in understanding,
A passive pot for fools to spend in!
The devil played booty, sure, with thee
To bring a blot on infamy.
But why am I, of all mankind,
To so severe a fate designed?
Ungrateful! Why this treachery
To humble fond, believing me,
Who gave you privilege above
The nice allowances of love?
Did ever I refuse to bear
The meanest part your lust could spare?
When your lewd cunt came spewing home
Drenched with the seed of half the town,
My dram of sperm was supped up after
For the digestive surfeit water.
Full gorged at another time
With a vast meal of slime
Which your devouring cunt had drawn
From porters’ backs and footmen’s brawn,
I was content to serve you up
My ballock-full for your grace cup,
Nor ever thought it an abuse
While you had pleasure for excuse –
You that could make my heart away
For noise and color, and betray
The secrets of my tender hours
To such knight-errant paramours,
When, leaning on your faithless breast,
Wrapped in security and rest,
Soft kindness all my powers did move,
And reason lay dissolved in love!
May stinking vapors choke your womb
Such as the men you dote upon
May your depraved appetite,
That could in whiffling fools delight,
Beget such frenzies in your mind
You may go mad for the north wind,
And fixing all your hopes upon’t
To have him bluster in your cunt,
Turn up your longing arse t’ th’ air
And perish in a wild despair!
But cowards shall forget to rant,
Schoolboys to frig, old whores to paint;
The Jesuits’ fraternity
Shall leave the use of buggery;
Crab-louse, inspired with grace divine,
From earthly cod to heaven shall climb;
Physicians shall believe in Jesus,
And disobedience cease to please us,
Ere I desist with all my power
To plague this woman and undo her.
But my revenge will best be timed
When she is married that is limed.
In that most lamentable state
I’ll make her feel my scorn and hate:
Pelt her with scandals, truth or lies,
And her poor cur with jealousied,
Till I have torn him from her breech,
While she whines like a dog-drawn bitch;
Loathed and despised, kicked out o’ th’ Town
Into some dirty hole alone,
To chew the cud of misery
And know she owes it all to me.
And may no woman better thrive
That dares prophane the cunt I swive!
John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester (April 1, 1647–July 26, 1680) was an English libertine, a friend of King Charles II, and the writer of much satirical and bawdy poetry.
Posted February 23, 2009 | Comments Off on Dirty Mondays: ‘A Ramble in St. James’s Park’ by John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester. Tags: londonMonday PoempoetryRochester
I have a number of weaknesses. Some of them, in no particular order are: dirty books (obviously), old London guidebooks (of which I have many) and the New English Library.
The old NEL was a wonderful thing. The current incarnation is an indifferent imprint of Hodder & Staughton, but in the 50s and 60s they published all kids of weird and wonderful (and dirty) things, hitting a high point in the 70s with a whole raft of hack writing – notably Richard Allen’s Skinhead and Mick Norman’s Hells Angels series, which are well worth seeking out.
I particularly like the fact they weren’t afraid of producing their own books – ‘Mick Norman’ was a pseudonym of Laurence James, an editor at NEL who churned out tonnes of this stuff. They were also utterly mercenary, which brings us to this: London Unexpurgated, by Petronius. LibraryThing attributes ‘Petronius’ to Paul Tabori, author of a range of likely-sounding titles such as The Torture Machine and A pictorial history of love, but even the old NEL editors aren’t sure any more.
No matter. Petronius proves an excellent guide to London, 1969, in a book aimed at Yanks (he’s also credited with New York Unexpurgated), but containing plenty of gems for the amateur historian of the London underworld, as well as some rather lovely illustrations, like this one, fronting the chapter on The London Whore:
Petronius takes the visitor to London (or the inquisitive local) on a tour of London’s best pick-up spots, including exhibitions, ice rinks and the pub (which get their own chapter); the best places to peep (outside the youth hostel by Holland Park is a top contender); into the the heart of the Hippie subculture, characterised by Happenings, Pentangle, and pot; and around the late night coffee houses and steak joints inhabited by nightbirds. It is occasionally serious, too, discussing the enlightened British attitude to registered drug addicts (which, “like all well-meaning, general control schemes, does not really work”), and contrasting Paris, which has within recent memory “driven the girls from maisons beloved by Maupassant and Toulouse-Lautrec into the street” under the Marthe Richard laws, with London’s banning of street prostitution, forcing girls into hidden, vulnerable bedsits and leading to the proliferation of coy notices in shop windows:
English and Swedish lessons
Young Lady Good at Figures seeks Position
And so on. It’s also occasionally very rude indeed, advising those in search of nymphettes (“The older I get the younger I like ’em”—The Duke of Wellington) to join the fan clubs of Englebert Humperdinck, Tom Jones and, ahem, Liberace, in the hopes that they may “deflect their passion from their idol to yourself”. The disclaimer reads “We would not like to be accused of encouraging statutory
rape – we are only giving the facts.”
Petronius is also not coy about delving into the world of “The Consenting Adult”, aka homosexuals, advising males so interested to seek out The Albany Trust – but leaving lesbians to find “their clubs and associations, their regular meeting places and rites” on their own.
Like most NEL titles, there is far more titillation than filth here, and far less information than could be found in a standard guidebook of the day, but couched in a whispering, adult tone that was still welcomed in contrast to the still straight-laced mainstream it subverted. Encouraging the young to explore, and the old to help them, Petronius is a wonderful guide, whose only real injunction is to look beneath the surface, and say:
Anyone else got any dirty guidebook recommendations we should be checking out? Let us know.
An email from The London Adventure informs us of an upcoming event surely of interest to Bookkake readers:
Niall McDevitt leads a poetic walk tracing the steps of the legendary Frenchman and his fellow communard/poet/homosexual/alcoholic Paul Verlaine.
Sunday 19 Oct meeting at the Eleanor Cross in the forecourt of Charing Cross station. 1pm. £5/3 (unwaged). Info: 07722163823
The London Adventure is an informal literary club whose regular perambulations of the English capital have taken in such favourites of Bookkake as Patrick Hamilton, Aubrey Beardsley, William Burroughs and many others. This walk should be of particular interest, as it promises to include access to Rimbaud and Verlaine’s house on Royal College Street, where the pair lived in 1873.
Only recently I picked up a copy of Rimbaud, Psychogeographer by Aidan Andrew Dun, originally presented as a lecture at the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institue in 2006. If you don’t know Dun, he’s a contemporary poet of a particularly fine skill, with a special affection for London: his Vale Royal, an epic poem in 12 cantos, concerns the mythology of the city, centred on the church of Old St Pancras, once acclaimed as “the head and mother of all Christian Churches”. An early, and rather poor quality reading – by Dun, in that very churchyard – is available on YouTube:
Rimbaud, Psychogeographer covers much of the same territory as Vale Royal, but links those emanations to Rimbaud’s poetry:
Single-handedly, and by the age of nineteen, Artur Rimbaud laid the foundations of modern poetry. He then torpedoed literature, hit her below the water-line, Pearl-Harboured his vision in a surprise attack and vanished from civilisation. Let’s take an aerial view of the life and work, the doomed loves and dark fate of the great Artorius. I’ll then present you with a new theory of his literary suicide. The decision of the poet to abandon his art represents the most impossible disappearance in the history of escapology. My hypothesis hinges on the psychogegraphy of London, where Rimbaud did much of his great work, both writing and research.
Dun goes on to give a crash-course in the mythology of Kings’ Cross, from the time of Arthurian legend up until the present day, and decodes Rimbaud’s works and its references. In Promontoire, from Illuminations (French text, English follows), he finds:
Villas and dependencies? That sprawling empire of gothic hotel, ‘flanked, hollowed and dominated’ by Railtrack. Mounds in odd parks? Humpbacked Old St Pancras Churchyard with its atmospheres and willows. ‘The Japanese tree’, that dreadlocked witch-elm behind the church. All the connections! The vagabond Rimbaud had left a cryptogram in the Illuminations. Like some intentional gypsy heiroglyph made of twigs and acting as a marker, waysign to be read by the next man down the line.
Old St Pancras Churchyard, tucked away behind the railway station, is indeed a strange and resonant place, as anyone who has visited it will know, full of odd assemblages, such as the Hardy tree, arrayed with gravestones stacked up when the churchyard was first cleared by the Midland Railways.
Dun goes on to talk to old residents of the area to uncover other correlations to buildings destroyed in the Blitz, and described by Blake in his Jerusalem. It’s an excellent and poetic work, and not easy to track down, but Housman’s had a number of copies last time I was there.
My favourite reference to Rimbaud and Verlaine’s sojourn in London, however, is in Patrick Keiller‘s peerless film London, which I urge you to see if you’ve never had the pleasure. Noting that, before Camden, the pair lived in Howland Street, W1, just west of Tottenham Court Road, the narrator of the film reveals that, although that house has long since disappeared, the inhabitants of London saw fit to commemorate the relationship with a suitable memorial:
Photographs of plaque from No. 8 Royal College Street by Graham, of St Pancras Churchyard by StefZ and of the BT Tower by Uli Harder, all under Creative Commons.