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Chapter two

  Mon 14th November 2011

Mary-Ann and I wended our way to the most distant room in Birmingham's magnificent art gallery. "How do we get here?" she asked the attendant, pointing to the most inaccessible room in the gallery. Outside, round a corner, a bit along a busy road, up three floors. We came to the Egyptian galleries and a sole family. Mid-snog, some Indian folk music started up alarmingly from one of the displays.

After she'd gone to get her train, and having some time to spare, I went to a pub crowded with military types at the back end of a long afternoon's drinking after the Armistice Day services. The best-looking woman in the pub came up and asked, in a gorgeous sing-song Irish accent, if the other three seats on my table were free, and brought over her husband and father.

Standing up, and handshakes. The pleasures of formality. They're involved in horse racing and were on their way back to Co. Mayo from Cheltenham. Bright, unstoppable conversation, perfectly timed to tell them a bit about Mary-Ann. They were gamely receptive to my advocacy of English stout over the Guinness her father was drinking. "It always tastes like it's got half a pint of water poured into it." The Irish property market and the price of beer; the social benefits of bullshitting; the way that people in their village are becoming more isolated as they are being priced out of going down the pub, and all done with an informal grace in which the Irish are expert. I didn't want them to leave.

To the Storey for a poetry reading, David Tait (whom I know), and Ian Seed. Not just first rate poets, but good readers too. Then, in the interval, we were lurched from intense concentration to the ripples of language, to its being vandalised by canned music. The director exudes this anxious, tense middle class air which irrationally irritates me, but then he disables it by his honest warmth and the knowledge that he's trying hard to make this good for us and that he's going to lose his job in a few months because obviously no civilised advanced country should fund poetry readings. "It's still too loud," I said to him imperiously, after asking him to turn it off.


Comment from: [Member]

sounds like a lovely weekend…

and yes… the irish… one of my gents is from Limerick, and good lord, can that man talk…

Tue 15th November 2011 @ 02:10
Comment from: [Member]

“One of my gents” … how many are you keeping on the go? :)

But you’re right - Irish conversation has a different flavour to English. That’s why I like talking to Linda (from Galway) so much.

Tue 15th November 2011 @ 07:49

I know Daisy fairly well and I can tell you that she has a bit of a harem going. Ponies in her stable, as it were.

I have an irrational fear that young people are going to become so accustom to meeting via electronic social media that they’ll never learn the graces necessary to have a spontaneous meet-up like the one you had.

Tue 15th November 2011 @ 12:10
Comment from: [Member]

I’ve always liked that more formal type of introduction, even when I was young. And handshaking. Do young people shake hands, or even do introductions nowadays? Or sit in pubs and strike up conversations with strangers that isn’t fishing for a sexual partner?

Actually, they wouldn’t do what the Irish woman did. They’d see one seat taken on a table for four and turn round and say “LOL OMG like, like, OMG LOL like there’s like no seats, like, LOL, that’s so not, like, awesome.”

Tue 15th November 2011 @ 14:30

My first real girlfriend was as Irish nurse, and I just loved the way she and her friend (another Irish nurse) could talk absolute shite and make it sound good.

Just like most modern poetry.

I remember at school in the 60s, we had to learn and analyse some poetry for our Highers, and I thought then it was the most boring of all of the arts. I still do, with the possible exception of opera.

Yes I know I’m a philistine, but I know what I like.

Wed 16th November 2011 @ 17:32
Comment from: ISBW [Visitor]

One of the things I miss most about my little Mam is her beautiful West cork accent, and how I would always end up ‘talking Irish’ to her within moments of us getting together. There’s nothing so grand, bedad.

Thu 17th November 2011 @ 16:54
Comment from: [Member]

TSB: That’s what so great about Irish people. I talk shite endlessly. But with the right people, it’s not shite, lets not do ourselves down, it’s conversation, and that’s a priceless thing in life.

ISBW: There is nothihg like that, you’re right. I’m English and I could feel myself slipping into a different mode, type, mood, I don’t know, with them.

Thu 17th November 2011 @ 20:38

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looby, n.; pl. loobies. A lout; an awkward, stupid, clownish person

M / 60 / Bristol, "the most beautiful, interesting and distinguished city in England" -- John Betjeman [1961, source eludes me].

"Looby is a left-wing intellectual who is obsessed with a) women's clothes and b) tits." -- Joy of Bex.

WLTM literate woman, 40-65. Must have nice tits, a PhD, and an mdma factory in the shed, although the first on its own will do in the short term.

There are plenty of bastards who drink moderately. Of course, I don't consider them to be people. They are not our comrades.
Sergei Korovin, quoted in Pavel Krusanov, The Blue Book of the Alcoholic

I am here to change my life. I am here to force myself to change my life.
Chinese man I met during Freshers Week at Lancaster University, 2008

The more democratised art becomes, the more we recognise in it our own mediocrity.
James Meek

Tell me, why is it that even when we are enjoying music, for instance, or a beautiful evening, or a conversation in agreeable company, it all seems no more than a hint of some infinite felicity existing apart somewhere, rather than actual happiness – such, I mean, as we ourselves can really possess?
Turgenev, Fathers and Sons

I hate the iPod; I hate the idea that music is such a personal thing that you can just stick some earplugs in your ears and have an experience with music. Music is a social phenomenon.
Jeremy Wagner

La vie poetique has its pleasures, and readings--ideally a long way from home--are one of them. I can pretend to be George Szirtes.
George Szirtes

Using words well is a social virtue. Use 'fortuitous' once more to mean 'fortunate' and you move an English word another step towards the dustbin. If your mistake took hold, no-one who valued clarity would be able to use the word again.
John Whale

One good thing about being a Marxist is that you don't have to pretend to like work.
Terry Eagleton, What Is A Novel?, Lancaster University, 1 Feb 2010

The working man is a fucking loser.
Mick, The Golden Lion, Lancaster, 21 Mar 2011

The Comfort of Strangers

23.1.16: Big clearout of the defunct and dormant and dull
16.1.19: Further pruning

If your comment box looks like this, I'm afraid I sometimes can't be bothered with all that palarver just to leave a comment.

63 mago
Another Angry Voice
the asshat lounge
Clutter From The Gutter
Eryl Shields Ink
Exile on Pain Street
Fat Man On A Keyboard
gairnet provides: press of blll defunct, but retained for its quality
George Szirtes ditto
Infomaniac [NSFW]
The Joy of Bex
Laudator Temporis Acti
Leeds's Singing Organ-Grinder
The Most Difficult Thing Ever
Strange Flowers
Trailer Park Refugee
Wonky Words

"Just sit still and listen" - woman to teenage girl at Elliott Carter weekend, London 2006

Bristol New Music
Desiring Progress Collection of links only
The Rambler
Resonance FM
Sequenza 21
Sound and Music
Talking Musicology defunct, but retained

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