Monday, January 31, 2005

i've got a lousy cold, i'm up to my eyes in work, my tax return is due today, and i can't think of anything to say ...

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Final Soliloquy of the Interior Paramour
Light the first light of evening, as in a room
In which we rest and, for small reason, think
The world imagined is the ultimate good.

This is, therefore, the intensest rendezvous.
It is in that thought that we collect ourselves,
Out of all the indifferences, into one thing:

Within a single thing, a single shawl
Wrapped tightly round us, since we are poor, a warmth,
A light, a power, the miraculous influence.

Here, now, we forget each other and ourselves.
We feel the obscurity of an order, a whole,
A knowledge, that which arranged the rendezvous,

Within its vital boundary, in the mind.
We say God and the imagination are one …
How high that highest candle lights the dark.

Out of this same light, out of the central mind,
We make a dwelling in the evening air,
In which being there together is enough.

Wallace Stevens

Saturday, January 29, 2005

who keeps 60 beers in their car?
A Slovak man trapped in his car under an avalanche freed himself by drinking 60 bottles of beer and urinating on the snow to melt it. Rescue teams found him staggering drunkenly along a path in the Tatra mountains. Meanwhile, in Somerset, a devout Baptist couple bought a DVD of Doris Day in 'Pajama Game' from a bargain bin at a supermarket, but it turned out to be an Italian porn movie 'Breasts of Passion'. The pensioners watched the whole film before complaining. 'We were very shocked, but we watched until the end because we couldn't believe what we were seeing. Topless women appeared and started talking in Italian. We were horrified. There was no plot - just sex.'
Lomo copyright Alan Edwards

Friday, January 28, 2005

Language is much more restless than life
Manuel Seco

Thursday, January 27, 2005

The latest cover of Private Eye magazine
I dreamt of falling trees in a wild storm
I was between them as a desolate shore
came to meet me and I ran, scared stiff,
there was a trap door but I could not lift
it, I have started an affair
with your son, on a train somewhere
in a dark tunnel, his hand was underneath
my dress between my thighs I could not breathe
he took me to a white lakeside hotel
somewhere high up, the lake was emerald
I could not stop myself I was in flames...

DM Thomas, excerpt from 'Don Giovanni I, The White Hotel'
digital painting #4

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

7 March
I paid a visit to the young Mme Roquenton, temporarily widowed since midnight. She received me with a graciousness made all the more charming by her melancholy. We spoke of one thing and another and also of her husband. She told me how he vanished into nothingness. They were both in bed. At one minute to midnight, Roquenton was holding his wife’s hand and giving her his last recommendations. On the stroke of midnight, she suddenly felt the hand of her companion evaporate in her grasp. There was nothing left beside her but an empty pair of pajamas and a set of false teeth on the pillow. This vivid description moved us both a great deal. Since Lucette Roquenton was shedding a few tears, I opened my arms to her.

The Ration Ticket
Excerpt from the diary of Jules Flegmon by Marcel Aymé, 1943

you know, i'm growing quite fond of this little fellow
As the nation approaches the one-year anniversary of the Super Bowl XXXVIII tragedy, an FCC study shows that millions of US children were severely traumatized by the exposure to a partially nude female breast during the Feb 1, 2004 halftime show. 'No one who lived through that day is likely to forget the horror,' said noted child therapist Dr. Eli Wasserbaum. 'But it was especially hard on the children.'

more ...

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

I met wi' twa dink quines in particlar, ane o' them a sonsie, fine fodgel lass, baith braw and bonie; the tither was a clean-shankit, straught, tight, weel-far'd winch, as blythe's a lintwhite on a flowerie thorn, and as sweet and modest's a new blawn plumrose in a hazle shaw. - they were baith bred to mainners by the beuk, and onie ane o' them has a muckle smeddum and rumblegumption as the half o' some Presbyteries that you and I baith ken. - They play'd me sik a deevil o' a shavie that I daur say if my harigals were turn'd out, ye wad see twa nicks i' the heart o' me like the mark o' a kail-whittle in a castock.

Extract from the only surviving letter in Scots written by Robert Burns, sent to his friend William Nicol in Edinburgh. He's talking about a couple of pretty, well-bred and high-spirited girls he met on his tour of the Scottish Borders (collecting folksongs) in 1787. They evidently gave him a bit of a runaround, teasing him and leaving two nicks in his heart like the marks the knife leaves in kale when it's being harvested. I think Burns probably coined the word rumblegumption himself, but if you want to work out what it's about in greater detail try this.

Robert Burns

But pleasures are like poppies spread
You seize the flow'r, its bloom is shed
Or like the snow falls in the river
A moment white then melts for ever.

from Tam O'Shanter by Robert Burns

Happy Burns Night!
Love Song
Sweep the house clean,
hang fresh curtains
in the windows
put on a new dress
and come with me!
The elm is scattering
its little loaves
of sweet smells
from a white sky!

Who shall hear of us
in the time to come?
Let him say there was
a burst of fragrance
from black branches.

William Carlos Williams

Monday, January 24, 2005

Gay Christian Athletics

"As a Gay Christian in a gym, nudity is a part of gym life ... You may see a guy wearing shorts lying on a bench, accidentally see up the leg, and notice he is wearing nothing underneath. Oops."

er, yes. and what an exquisite website. hallelujah!
Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction.

ok. so where's my mobile phone?

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Hi Sammy. I'll be home soon!
In addition, and perhaps more valuable, pet owners will have a piece of mind that if their pet is lost and someone finds their pet wandering the streets bla bla bla ...

A 'piece of mind'? Who writes the copy for these people? Their pets?

Saturday, January 22, 2005

First Voice [Very softly]

To begin at the beginning:
It is Spring, moonless night in the small town, starless and bible-black, the cobblestreets silent and the hunched, courter's-and-rabbits' wood limping invisible down to the sloeblack, slow, black, crowblack, fishingboat-bobbing sea. The houses are are blind as moles (though moles see fine tonight in the snouting, velvet dingles) or blind as Captain Cat there in the muffled middle by the pump and the town clock, the shops in mourning, the Welfare Hall in widows' weeds. And all the people of the lulled and dumbfound town are sleeping now.
Hush, the babies are sleeping, the farmers, the fishers, the tradesmen and pensioners, cobbler, schoolteacher, postman and publican, the undertaker and the fancy woman, drunkard, dressmaker, preacher, policeman, the webfoot cocklewomen and the tidy wives. Young girls lie bedded soft or glide in their dreams, with rings and trousseaux, bridesmaided by glow-worms down the aisles of the organplaying wood. The boys are dreaming wicked of the bucking ranches of the night and the jollyrodgered sea. And the anthracite statues of the horses sleep in the fields, and the cows in the byres, and the dogs in the wet-nosed yard; and the cats nap in the slant corners or lope sly, streaking and needling, on the one cloud of the roofs.
You can hear the dew falling, and the hushed town breathing.
Only your eyes are unclosed to see the black and folded town fast, and slow, asleep.

The opening to Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas

Friday, January 21, 2005

Lomo copyright Alan Edwards

water running down a fish shop window. lomo

for christy

Thursday, January 20, 2005

The Windhover
To Christ our Lord

I caught this morning morning's minion, king-
dom of daylight's dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,
As a skate's heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding
Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
Stirred for a bird,--the achieve of, the mastery of the thing!

Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here
Buckle! AND the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion
Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!

No wonder of it: sheer plod makes plough down sillion
Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,
Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermilion.

Gerard Manley Hopkins

Hopkins described this poem as 'the best thing I ever wrote', and the first verse is a real tour-de-force. Anyone who has watched a kestrel hunting will know how accurate the description is, but to actually catch the poetry of the bird in flight in this way is something else. I wonder if Nick Cave had been reading Hopkins' sprung rhythms when he wrote Breathless. In fact, you can sing 'The Windhover' to that quirky calypso melody. Go on, try it.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction.

hanging the world out to dry

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Nightjars, from 'Gould's Birds of Great Britain'

The Nightjar
Low upon a pine-branch a nightjar leans and sings his churring song. He sings his churring song to his mate, who, poised upon a juniper hard by, listens with quivering wings.

The whirring of the nightjar fills the dusk, heavy with the fragrance of new-mown hay. There is neither star nor moon in the dim, flowing darkness, only the red and yellow wayfaring flames where the glow-worms are. Like a wandering wave, in the dewy dark, the churring note of the nightjar rises and falls against the juniper bush hard by.

William Sharp
The true feeling of sex is that of a deep intimacy, but above all
of a deep complicity.
James Dickey
Lt. Col. Frank Slade: Women! What can you say? Who made 'em? God must have been a fuckin' genius. The hair... They say the hair is everything, you know. Have you ever buried your nose in a mountain of curls... just wanted to go to sleep forever? Or lips... and when they touched, yours were like... that first swallow of wine after you just crossed the desert. Tits. Hoo-hah! Big ones, little ones, nipples staring right out at ya, like secret searchlights. Mmm. Legs. I don't care if they're Greek columns or secondhand Steinways. What's between 'em... passport to heaven ... Hah! Are you listenin' to me, son? I'm givin' ya pearls here.
from 'Scent of a Woman' (1992)

Monday, January 17, 2005


A scientific probe recently landed on Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. Not only are pictures of the surface of Titan being beamed back to earth, but we can also listen to the response of one of the inhabitants of this distant world to the unexpected arrival of the probe. In this mp3 recording we can clearly hear the mounting consternation in the Titanian's voice as the probe descends, followed by his swift getaway in a Titanic space module. We are not yet sure what he is saying, but the first three letters - W,T and F - have already been decoded.
Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction.

conversation at an exhibition opening
For she lies, laughing low with love; she lies
And turns his kisses on her lips to sighs,
To sighing sound of lips unsatisfied,
And the sweet tears are tender with her eyes.

Ah, not as they, but as the souls that were
Slain in the old time, having found her fair;
Who, sleeping with her lips upon their eyes,
Heard sudden serpents hiss across her hair.

Their blood runs round the roots of time like rain:
She casts them forth and gathers them again;
With nerve and bone she weaves and multiplies
Exceeding pleasure out of extreme pain.

Algernon Charles Swinburne, from 'Laus Veneris'

Sunday, January 16, 2005

You must believe: a poem is a holy thing -- a good poem, that is.
Theodore Roethke

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction.

Straight Outta Compton
Nina Gordon sings Niggers With Attitude

Friday, January 14, 2005


cries of wild geese
spread about me

don't fly off nightingale
though your song's poor
you're mine

they cry to each other
across a river
deer in love

where there are humans
you'll find flies
and Buddhas

The way to love anything is to realise that it might be lost.
GK Chesterton
I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understood the art of taking walks daily ... who had a genius, so to speak, for sauntering. And this word “saunter,” by the way, is happily derived “from idle people who roved about the country [in the Middle Ages] and asked charity under pretence of going a la Sainte-Terrer,” a Holy-Lander. They who never go to the Holy Land in their walks, as they pretend, are indeed mere idlers and vagabonds.
Henry David Thoreau

Thursday, January 13, 2005

In Britain we have a Royal Family. Why? I have no idea. Anyway, one of the over-privileged sprogs - Harry, the dim, ginger one - went to a party the other night in an army jacket with a German flag on the arm, a khaki shirt with a Wehrmacht badge on the collar and a swastika armband. This is strange, because it is widely rumoured that Harry, unlike his brother, does not have a drop of German blood in him. I'm not even sure he's clever enough to know what a Nazi is, but surely someone could have told him, especially since in two weeks time the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz will be commemorated throughout Europe.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream.
Mark Twain

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

The Rokeby Venus by Velasquez

'Venus at her Mirror' by Diego Velasquez. This Venus is said to have 'the sexiest bottom in the history of art'. I wouldn't argue with that. Velasquez once said, 'Painting is a holy alliance between God and the painter. The artist must allow his hand to steered by God lest the Devil get into the bristles.' God must have been otherwise engaged when Velasquez was working on this one.
The possession of knowledge does not kill the sense of wonder and mystery. There is always more mystery.

Each friend represents a world in us, a world not born until they arrive.

The day came when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.
Anais Nin

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Mystery has its own mysteries, and there are gods above gods. We have ours, they have theirs. That is what's known as infinity.
Jean Cocteau
Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away. If one were to give all the wealth of his house for love, it would be utterly scorned. Song of Solomon 8:6-7
Lomo copyright Alan Edwards

flower shop window at night, lomo

Monday, January 10, 2005

‘Have you guessed the riddle yet?’ the Hatter said, turning to Alice again.
‘No, I give it up,’ Alice replied: ‘what’s the answer?’
‘I haven’t the slightest idea,’ said the Hatter.
‘Nor I,’ said the March Hare.
Quatrain #3

The Bat
A bat upon a radar screen
Is something very rarely seen
But something stranger still than that
Is a radar screen upon a bat.
I watched about 45 minutes of the BBC's transmission of Jerry Springer - The Opera on Saturday night, more out of boredom than anything. To be honest I'm surprised I stayed with it that long because it really is the biggest load of twaddle imaginable, and a shameful misuse of British license payers' money to boot. It's not funny, it's not clever, it's not musically interesting. It's not anything other than a money spinner for the production company and an easy target for the far-right Christian protestors who blocked the BBC switchboard with complaints and stood around with their daft banners outside the theatre. It is offensive, yes, but not because of the liberal dose of expletives that litter the sad excuse for a libretto, and not because Jesus wears a nappy and admits to being 'slightly gay'; it's offensive because it is totally devoid of merit on any level whatsoever. The idea was presumably to create a sort of marriage of 'The Rocky Horror Show' and 'Nixon in China'. The result is pure drivel. If proof was ever needed that you can't make a silk purse out of a pig's ear this is it.
I Knew a Woman
I knew a woman, lovely in her bones,
When small birds sighed, she would sigh back at them;
Ah, when she moved, she moved more ways than one:
The shapes a bright container can contain!
Of her choice virtues only gods should speak,
Or English poets who grew up on Greek
(I'd have them sing in chorus, cheek to cheek.)

How well her wishes went! She stroked my chin,
She taught me Turn, and Counter-turn, and stand;
She taught me Touch, that undulant white skin:
I nibbled meekly from her proffered hand;
She was the sickle; I, poor I, the rake,
Coming behind her for her pretty sake
(But what prodigious mowing did we make.)

Love likes a gander, and adores a goose:
Her full lips pursed, the errant note to seize;
She played it quick, she played it light and loose;
My eyes, they dazzled at her flowing knees;
Her several parts could keep a pure repose,
Or one hip quiver with a mobile nose
(She moved in circles, and those circles moved.)

Let seed be grass, and grass turn into hay:
I'm martyr to a motion not my own;
What's freedom for? To know eternity.
I swear she cast a shadow white as stone.
But who would count eternity in days?
These old bones live to learn her wanton ways:
(I measure time by how a body sways.)

Theodore Roethke

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Quatrain #2

The Polar Bear
The polar bear is always there
Wherever icebergs flow
He dyes his hair with meticulous care
To blend in with the snow.
>>> get your monitor cleaned here
>>> calm down dear, it's a commercial

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Quatrain #1 (for Robin)

The Amoeba
To feed an amoeba is no easy task
Greater than I have been thwarted
If you lift up the hair the mouth isn't there
And the eyes are immensely distorted.

Happy Birthday to the Thin White Duke, 58 today

Somewhere, someone's calling me
When the chips are down
I'm just a travelling man
Maybe it's just a trick of the mind, but
Somewhere there's a morning sky
Bluer than her eyes
Somewhere there's an ocean
Innocent and wild

Africa is sleepy people
Russia has its horsemen
Spent some nights in old Kyoto
Sleeping on the matted ground
Cyprus is my island
When the going's rough
I would love to find you
Somewhere in a place like that

from 'Move On' ~ Lodger, 1979

Friday, January 07, 2005

Woman: My daughter can paint like that.
Picasso: Congratulations Madame, your daughter is a genius.
Gertrude Stein: I look nothing like the person in this painting.
Picasso: No, but you will.
Scene: Picasso's apartment in Nazi-occupied Paris during an unwelcome visit from the Gestapo. An officer notices a picture of Guernica (Picasso's depiction of the destruction of the Basque capital by German planes during the Spanish Civil War) on a table.

Gestapo Officer: Did you do that?
Picasso: No. You did.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

LHOOQ - she has a hot ass

The supreme question about a work of art is out of how deep a life does it spring. James Joyce, from 'Ulysses'

This is an interesting statement by Joyce. 100 years earlier no-one would have thought of making it, because the 'depth' of an artist's life was reflected in the art itself; the two were inseparable. The works of Schubert or Baudelaire, for example, clearly reveal the depths of their creators' lives. By the early twentieth century that was no longer the case. Marcel Duchamp - and others - had moved the goalposts, making it often impossible to deduce anything at all about the artist by examining the work in isolation. 'Can one make works of art which are not art?' Duchamp asked in 1913, and proceeded to 'create' the ready-made. People would say, 'but anyone could do that?', and Duchamp would reply disarmingly, 'yes, but why would they want to?' In other words, 'how do their lives differ from mine?'

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Image copyright Alan Edwards. No unauthorised reproduction.

I grew up in the countryside, and the view from my bedroom window looked out over the southern Grampian mountains, with Ben Ledi (above) centre stage. I took this photograph when I was back there last weekend. Years after I'd left the village I was painting imaginary landscapes in watercolour and many featured a mountain like this. At first I thought I'd seen too many images of Mount Fuji or something, then I realised ...
Often when contending with obstacles of every sort that interfered with my work ... a secret feeling within me whispered: 'There are but few contented and happy men here below; grief and care prevail everywhere; perhaps your labours may one day be the source from which the weary and worn, or the man burdened with affairs, may derive a few moments’ rest and refreshment.' What a powerful motive for pressing onward!
Joseph Haydn

Haydn is one of my favourite composers, and I enjoyed reading this article about him. I sometimes listen to an old cassette recording I have of Yo Yo Ma playing his C Major Cello Concerto at the Edinburgh Festival. It's a brilliant performance, and the music itself - like much of Haydn's output - is certainly the equal of Mozart or Beethoven.

Haydn and Mozart were great friends. Mozart referred to him as 'papa', they played together in a string quartet, and Haydn selflessly championed the younger composer, saying, 'I only wish I could impress upon every great man the same deep sympathy and profound appreciation I myself feel for Mozart's inimitable music; then all nations would vie with each other to possess such a genius within their frontiers.'

The young Beethoven studied briefly under Haydn, but appears to have been too headstrong to have benefited much from the experience. However, in 1808 during Haydn's last public appearance at a performance of 'The Creation', Beethoven - by then the most famous composer in Europe - came forward as the frail old man was being carried from the auditorium in an armchair and reverently kissed his forehead and hands. During that performance, at the words 'And there was light', the orchestra intoned a grand C major chord and Haydn, overcome with emotion, pointed upward and exclaimed, 'It came from there!'

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Which baroque composer are you?

JS Bach
You are Johann Sebastian Bach. Many people would say you are the greatest composer who ever lived. You are extremely creative and have great focus. You are truly a master of your craft. You are deep and love life, and greatly care for others. You will probably end up having many children.

Excellent. I'm my own favourite composer.
this morning, feeling a bit gloomy and hungover, i decided to hunt down some roy orbison lyrics with which to console myself whilst strumming my guitar. and what did i find in the process? this!

Monday, January 03, 2005

Life is pain and the enjoyment of love is an anaesthetic.

Will power is only the tensile strength of one's own disposition. One cannot increase it by a single ounce.

We do not remember days, we remember moments.

Cesare Pavese

Sunday, January 02, 2005

A writer -- and, I believe, generally all persons -- must think that whatever happens to him or her is a resource. All things have been given to us for a purpose, and an artist must feel this more intensely. All that happens to us, including our humiliations, our misfortunes, our embarrassments, all is given to us as raw material, as clay, so that we may shape our art.
JL Borges
from 'Twenty Conversations with Borges' by Roberto Alifano