Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Not lost in transLaportation

No-one carries the English in their hearts.
- Bernard Laporte

Monday, 7 December 2009

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Five-and-a-bit Dials

Numero huit-b.


Feeling the Roth (p.3)

They decided to avail themselves of the facility reserved to people in our own century when they don't know what to do - they went to the cinema.
- The Legend of the Holy Drinker

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Feeling the Roth (p.2)

The nuts and bolts of a miracle have nothing miraculous about them.
- The Legend of the Holy Drinker

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Feeling the Roth (p.1)

'I see,' said the clochard, 'that you have understood me and my sense of honour perfectly. I give my word that I will keep my word.'
- The Legend of the Holy Drinker

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

'****ed' are the meek

Any idea of freedom must include the freedom to be poor.
- Rana Dasgupta

Herod rides again!

Cribs recalled for Christmas

Ethiopians vs the World (Service)

Ethiopian tour operators tear it up in Docklands in anger at the BBC.

One sympathises.

Lateran thinking

Yr 7 History exam

Source B: Peter Connolly, 1978

Hannibal tried to bring 34 elephants to Italy. All but one died crossing the Alps.

Source C: Mike Corbishley, 1989

Hannibal astonished his enemies by marching to Italy across the Alps. His huge army of 40,000 men also had 37 war-elephants with them. Hannibal reached Italy with 26,000 men and 12 elephants.
Q5 Sources B and C were both written by experts on Roman history. Do the differences mean that one of them must be wrong?

[A Of course not. They could both be wrong.]

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Sunday, 15 November 2009

InDefinition - 12

saxoporn, n. musical genre, originating in '80s Demi Moore movies, now found also in chain coffee-shops, DIY superstores and branches of LUSH.

Yes, mate!

Machan - coming soon to Europe!

Saturday, 14 November 2009

InDefinition - 11

titter, v. traditional schoolboy reaction to mention of jugs, norks, boobies, and other adolescent synonyms for jubbly fun-bags.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

A 'flat' Strauss

All-time classic sub-editors' headline-writing contest winner - with a concert review attached.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Meanwhile, in the Times Education Supplement....

"The pressure is on the author to deliver as enriching an experience as video games do."
- Jeff Kinney


Saturday, 24 October 2009


"I find Jewish things very funny. Apart from the Holocaust."

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Further Thurber

Tout, as the French say, in a philosophy older than ours and an idiom often more succint, passe.
- Further Fables for Our Time

Thursday, 15 October 2009

De haute en bas

I am the birdshit on the statues of once-great men.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Monday, 12 October 2009

Old joke

What's the difference between an arts critic and a yoghurt?

'Dicks unhappy with referee'

(but ain't that always the way?)

Seriously, though...

The student-teacher relationship

Getting in on the Colombo music scene.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Hauteur! Hauteur!

I find my name listed in the program of the Edinburgh International Festival among those of writers invited to take part in its Writers Conference.... Needless to say that I am supremely indifferent to "the problems of a writer and the future of the novel" that are to be discussed...
- Vladimir Nabokov, letter to The Times, May 30, 1962

Titles gone begging - 10

The Principle Principle - or, Why People Think I'm An Arsehole

Saturday, 10 October 2009

American history wtf?

The New Press has a category entitled World History/WWII.

Everything you need to know about the American isolationist mentality...


Neat piece on Nobel oddities (Obama award not incl.)

Too soon!

Anyone else think rewarding Obama for his hopes and dreams is on a par with giving the Nobel Prize for Chemistry to an undergrad with a daring hypothesis?

Friday, 9 October 2009

Hearing voices

A great authority on singing once wrote that when Everyman sang in his bath, it was Caruso whom he fancied he heard.
- Frank Johnson, Best Seat in the House (not actually about music, ironically enough)

Which invites the question: when Everyman reviews his day's blog activity [ahem... - Eds.] whose work does he imagine he is reading? Nabokov? Fitzgerald? That idiot Joyce?

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

InDefinition - 10

dinner dance, n. prelude to a violent voiding of the bowels, usu. in the tropics (esp. if some distance from the nearest convenience). Ideally performed solo.

A precursory glance

Every writer creates his own precursors.
- Borges, 'Kafka and His Precursors'

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

World Teacher Day

I got a card today - "to the World's Best Teacher."

It had five spelling mistakes in it.

And was a day late.


It is impossible for a man to read and earn money at the same time, unless he is a reviewer, and Ruggiero prayed never to fall so low.
- Jeanette Winterson, Art & Lies

[Personally, I gotta say I've never found it possible to read and earn money even while being a reviewer. But there it is.]

Monday, 5 October 2009

I have a question

If a man who tells stories about his own adventures is branded an egotist and a bore, why is the man who spins fictions neither sectioned as a madman nor denounced as a liar?

non PC est

This isn't a pissing contest.

But if it were, I'd win.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

The deafening sound of silence

"You're not saying anything. That speaks volumes."

Friday, 2 October 2009

Fame, Branded

"My persona don't really work without fame. Without fame, this haircut could be mistaken for mental illness."
- Russell Brand

Couldn't agrizzle more. Here's me today, writing:

Hmmm... Maybe need to work on my back-comb.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

The broad church of academia

... with the ever-dwindling congregation.

Unfavourable conditions

[Spiked by the director]

Stormy Weather
Punchi Theatre, Borella, Colombo
10th-13th September

To die in one’s sleep may be considered a misfortune. To do so with fifteen stab wounds to the chest looks – more than somewhat – like murder.

– Smyth, after Wilde
The morning after a bitter argument with his wife, ‘man about town’ Noel Richards wakes up dead.

Of course, as only befits our Fifties noir setting, the investigating inspector soon discovers that all of the women in Noel’s life had reason to be involved in its grisly termination – his sister and lover (two separate people, I hasten to add) are also in the frame.

Written and directed (twice over) by Jehan Aloysius, and presented by CentreStage Productions, Stormy Weather is a neatly ironic homage to the celluloid murder mysteries of yesterdecade, augmenting stage action with film flashbacks, and all underlaid by an exuberantly over-atmospheric score (also composed by the writer-director).

Playing off the clench-jawed and unpleasantly masculine Noel (Amesh De Silva), the three potentially fatales femmes were, in turn, suitably vampish, agonised, and just plain bitchy. Shanuki De Alwis strutted as Charmaine, Noel’s drunken and volatile sister, with boisterous aplomb; Michelle Herft steered Therese, his spurned wife, through grief and rage in consecutive moments; and Dilrukshi Fonseka no less than embodied the feline spitefulness of Noel’s lover, Avanti (thank heavens she’s fictional, eh?).

Individually, each of these women seemed like a handful; together, they actually made one feel sorry for Noel. Freud, I am sure, would have had something interesting to say about a scene in which a naked man is repeatedly knifed, in his bed, by three (three!) women, at least two of whom could be considered relatives. (And as for the fact that the playwright’s mother positively ordered your reviewer to give the show a good write-up – well…)

It is no surprise if, in productions of this type, style threatens somewhat to overshadow content (pardon the pun): in such noir projects, style is almost a character in its own right.

Stormy Weather’s stage action – itself rendered exclusively in black & white – had the posing at an appropriately statuesque pitch, with the requisite number of hands-on-foreheads, slightly too-sexy couture, and everyone smoking furiously (perhaps a little joke within a joke: latter-day public school productions infamously followed this pattern, replete with the growing of totally gratuitous facial hair and the addition of ‘romantic’ scenes at every opportunity).

The film element deftly introduced – and thereby sidestepped – the inevitable melodrama of the noir genre before the play proper had even begun. It also helped to dodge the accusations of hammy-ness that stage gore invariably attracts. And the unabashed projection (as it were) of the genre from the outset permitted a few of the more clichéd lines – “Oh, how I wished her dead!”, etc. – to go underided.

Some sassy one-liners also helped leaven the morbidity, as did a few knowing remarks concerning Hollywood’s love of stereotype. Every man has his sticking point, and personally I found the blatant reference to “Agatha Christie mysteries” a step (and a clumsy rhyme) too far. But for the most part I enjoyed the cheeky post-post-(post-?)modern “where were you, inspector?” moments, and the astutely self-serving comments about “playing roles”. And was that a conscious nod to The Usual Suspects – the greatest ‘twist’ movie of all time – or did I imagine the capital letters?

Through no fault of his own, Mario de Soyza’s beleaguered sleuth was the least well-developed of the (admittedly, purposefully two-dimensional) characters. He also never worked out whodunit.

In the end, though – or, rather, substantially before the end – who did it was relatively obvious. In a small cast, process of elimination (it wasn’t suicide; X, Y and Z are just too obvious; dramatic rules don’t permit “an outsider”…) didn’t leave many options. Moreover, the play being commendably short, there was little time for that other vital facet of any murder mystery, the second-guessing of one’s initial hunches.

But if, in this hyper-stylistic exercise, the identity of the killer was of comparatively little consequence to the unfolding of the story, the denouement was none the less chilling for that. It is an amusing reflection on the Colombo cultural circuit that the programme implored attendees to “keep the murderer a secret for future audiences to enjoy the show”. Still, now that the curtain has fallen for the last time…

One particular oddity. “Noëlle”, which I originally took to be a sarcastic inflection (and feminisation) of the anti-hero’s name, turned out to be simply a consistent mispronunciation. Over the seventy minutes of the play, the cumulative effect of this minor slip managed to convey the impression that, fancy names notwithstanding, the whole tumultuous business had been firmly rooted in Cinnamon Gardens.

Now there’s a thought!

Logical curveball

"Sir, are we allowed to ask questions?"

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Five Dials 8

off the presses and into the ether.

My favourite* Colombo street address

Horton Place

Now, I'm no mathematician; but isn't that just No. 18?

* There is also a '00B' on Barnes Place, just one road behind - though, in fairness, someone has evidently stolen the '1'.

Philosophy doesn't repeat itself...

We live in an era of uncertainty, they say.

How can they be sure?

Sunday, 27 September 2009

On fiction

The only problem with 'make believe' is that it so rarely does.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Cussed are the peace-makers

Letter from the Colombo's first Art Biennale [sic.].

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Lock up your children: 2


Lock up your children: 1

Examining the portrayal of African social customs, religious philosophies, and political structures in fiction for young people, Maddy and MacCann reveal the Western biases that often infuse stories by well-known Western authors.
- from the blurb for Neo-Imperialism in Children's Literature About Africa


"I write for two reasons: partly to make money and partly to win the respect of people whom I respect."
- EM Forster, interviewed by the BBC on his 80th birthday

Friday, 18 September 2009

Happily remarried

For the twenty-second time.

Why read The Onion?!

Coetzee on Emants on Turgenev

In 1880 [Marcellus] Emants published an essay on Turgenev which describes his own philosophy rather better than it does Turgenev's.
- JM Coetzee, Stranger Shores: essays 1986-1999

Ain't that always the way?

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Thought for the day

"On a good day, writing about my life is the most sublime, cathartic, godly, and honest thing I could ever imagine doing ... On a bad day, however, it’s narcissistic and unimaginative. My pathetic life plays back like some annoying Top 40s jingle that lodges in the head and won’t leave."
- Jamie Brisick, in the latest issue of Five Dials.

For our American readers

Irony has to contain an element of suffering in it, (Otherwise it is the attitude of a know-it-all.)
- Robert Musil, Diaries

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Criteria for entry into the writing 'profession'

highly complex
in some respects of unsound mind
in other respects perverse...
-Marcellus Emants, A Posthumous Confession

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

InDefinition - 9

impostropher, n. One who puts apostrophe's where they do not belong.

On essay-writing*

There is something undeniably boring about ordering thoughts long familiar to reasonably clever people for the sake of some external purpose.
- Robert Musil, 'The Obscene and Pathological in Art' (1911), Precision and Soul

* Equally, 'On journalism'...

The great thinkers: part 1

"Tea tempers the spirit and harmonises the mind, dispels lassitude and relieves fatigue, awakens thought and prevents drowsiness, lightens or refreshes the body, and clears the perceptive faculties."
- Confucius, 8am Monday

Friday, 11 September 2009

Jane Austen couldn't spell

It's true.

I found a reference to 'Jane Austen's Love and Freindship' in With Chatwin by Susannah Clapp and - my apologies to Ms Clapp - looked it up.

True dat(a)

"In any field, find the strangest thing and then explore it."
- John Archibald Wheeler

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

At the (international) school gate

"As a writer you are considered one up from the dole."
- Robert Twigger

[NB He meant 'as a successful writer', obviously.]

ID vs ego

From the Sri Lankan Department of Immigration and Emigration Residence Visa form:

12. Any identification Marks of Peculiarities? [sic.]
Until otherwise instructed, I'm going to assume I don't need to attach a picture of my Prince Albert...

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Strange rhetoric

I've read and reread this paragraph several times, and I still can't work out what it means:
When asked whether he had forgiven and forgotten the public lampooning of his derisory decision to carry an umbrella on the touchline, he means to reply with a rhetorical question but in a Freudian slip said: "I won't forgive or forget."
From here.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Plough-shares into swords

Q Who was it who said God lives between the inhale and the exhale?

A A sniper?

But how did they know?!

78% 0FF on Pfizer!
From: © VIAGRA ® Official Site
Sent: 05 September 2009 23:15:24
To: competition@lizardmagazine.com

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Word of the day

Might be a common thing in Oz, but I was pleased to hear the use of the word 'shemozzle' in the Wallabies-Springboks game just now.

"It all ended up in a shemozzle," the Aussie commentator said after an errant pass knuckled into touch. It doesn't take much, I know, but this has kind of made my morning.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Thought for the day

"There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are."
- W. Somerset Maugham

(Thanks to Frank)

"Elephant stolen in Witney"

One of the more unlikely (noe to say 'disingenuous') headlines from this week's Oxford Mail.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Dr Ragab, I presume?

Interview with Robert Twigger, polymath and novelist.

After Wilde

Cursing is the work of the drinking classes.

Spam du jour

The Annual Report of the National Pharmaceutical Association... 4Q7W‏
From: Suzanne Dunn (cuisinesmp0@stahl.se)
Sent: 03 September 2009 00:15:56
To: competition@woolie.com

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Stationary business

The man in charge of the stationery can never find his pen.

Hand job

Lack of blogging activity of late due to half-arsed efforts on the part of one amnesiac to find gainful employment of some kind.

Like I keep telling all the agencies, I am good with my hands:

(Thanks to RN)

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Worst synopsis for a film ever

"Vinnie Jones takes on a 2,000 year-old warrior from a bog."
- As seen just now on Virgin media. Can't remember the name of the film, thank God.

Indefinition - 8

Double-entry book-keeping, n. Pornographic act involving librarians.

Overheard on flight EZY8853

  • "I started reading A Brief History of Time, but he lost me when it got to the sciencey bit."
  • "If you want to watch our short programmes, just look at the screens overhead."
  • "The weather [in Sharm el Sheikh] is... pretty much as you see it out the window."
The last, at least, was ironically. Sorry - purposefully ironic.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Friendly advice

"Just come out. Forget about your fucking novel."
- My mate Jack on the phone just now.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Opening remarks

"I'm a writer.

I'm a writer, but so far nothing I've written has ever been published.

Ernest Hemingway once said all he wanted to do was write one true sentence. He also tried to scratch an itch in the back of his head with a shotgun.

I've always dreamed of being a famous author - of creating an important work, something that connected with people and helped them as they suffered through the human condition. Also, something that made a shitload of cash....

I don't find the creative process in itself rewarding enough, I have to be honest. I wanna reach an audience."
- Lance Clayton (AKA Rob Williams), in World's Greatest Dad

Captions of the day so far - 2

From Colombo's glossy celebrity monthly, Hi!!:

  • "A Girl doing her best in the hearing impaired long jump event."

  • "A rear treat for these differenty able children."
This last, readers will be relieved to know, accompanied a totally innocent photograph of children on a merry-go-round.

Captions of the day so far

  • Fruity: According to Mr Simpkins, the lime has a 'particularly lurid' expression on its face during its encounter with a lemon

  • Debauched: The lime enjoys a similarly smutty experience with a willing pair of cherries

Taken from here.

(Thanks to RN)

Wednesday, 26 August 2009


Over the last thirty years or so, it has become almost a Parliamentary rule that disgrace visits the two main parties in different ways. Tories are busted for sex, and Labourites are busted for graft.
- Julian Barnes, writing for The New Yorker... in March 1990)

Apart from Barnes' telling prescience (or, at least, his accurate analysis of the cyclical inevitability of political sleaze) I am reminded that, thanks to the many and various evils of the English language, 'graft' can mean - as a noun, in the political sense - 'rifling the public petty (and not-so-petty) cash box' and - as a verb, in the rugby-playing, gruff-Northerners-tilling-the-fields kind of sense - 'working hard and (implicitly) earning legitimately and (for added virtue) by the sweat of one's brow'.

But, because this is English, though the word simultaneously has these two meanings, it cannot, (of course) mean them both at the same time.

Overheard at the Salem Public Library, Vol. 4

1. Librarian answering the phone: "Salem Public Library, how may I help you?" Woman on the phone: "Yes, hello, you're located in Manchester correct?" Librarian: "Um, no."

2. Different librarian, answering another phone call: "Yes sir, just one moment, I'll get that information for you...ok, here it is. It's spelled L-A-M-B, and the definition is, 'a young sheep'. Is that all? Ok, bye."


4. "Do you guys have that book by that chick Annie Frank? She wrote diaries and shit..."

Patrons of the Week: Dustin Hoffman, Jennifer Lopez

(Courtesy of Mrs. Dee Dee Cusack, the AR's mole in the SPL)

Eire land?

Speaking of Ryanair, whenever a Ryanair flight (succesfully) lands, a triumphant fanfare pipes up over the cabin intercom. The fanfare is accompanied by the supposedly comforting words, "90% of Ryanair flights land on time!"

As my sister was quick to point out: "The other 10% crash."

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Smoking - 3

A little late in the day, I know; but (surely) the greatest headline never written, from back when Sven Goran Eriksson was caught diddling his personal assistant at the FA:

No smoke without a Faria Alam

Smoking - 2

Further (im)ponderable:

I recently heard a Ryanair stewardess trying to flog 'smoke-free cigarettes'. Question is, do I still have to hide in the loo to 'smoke' them?

Thought for the day

Is smoking smokeless cigarettes still smoking?

Surely there's no smoke without... smoke.


Monday, 24 August 2009


Watching Match of the Day 2 on Sunday night, I couldn't help noticing that the West Ham manager Gianfranco Zola began a sentence in his post-match interview with the phrase, "At the end of the day..."

It really is amazing how quickly foreign managers and players pick up the worst English language football clichés when they come to manage or play for clubs in the Land of the World's Worst Football Clichés. Zola's missive brought to mind a piece I wrote for The Lizard, back when Fabio Capello had just been appointed England manager, which (seeing how I wrote it 'n' all) for your viewing pleasure (and to fill some space on this page) I will exclusively republish here (so that your computer doesn't crash when you CLICK THIS LINK):

How to speak Footballese
Essential lessons for the new England manager

by Dominic Hilton
Thursday, December 13, 2007

The fashionable suggestion that the new manager of the England football team should actually be able to speak English is, to my mind, hopelessly racist. The ability to speak English has never been required of England’s football players. Why single out the manager all of a sudden?

I’ll tell you why: because the two leading candidates for the job – Fabio Corleone and Marcello Lipsmacker – happen to be Italian persons of Italian persuasion, that’s why. Questioning the ability of these two footballing masterminds to lead the England team to international glory just because they can’t ask for directions to Wembley Stadium without sounding like that character in 'Allo 'Allo who worships Mussolini and chases all the women around Nazi HQ is bigoted xenophobia on a new and frightening scale (and frankly, I’m astonished that London’s Mayor Livingstone hasn’t organised a boycott of the entire English nation, yet).

In the modest opinion of this column, instead of abusing these foreign gentlemen for being Italian persons of Italian persuasion, we should be doing everything we can to help them to integrate, assimilate and melt into our culture by teaching them the rudiments of footballese in the paragraphs below.

So, in the spirit of shared mutual understanding and global football peace, here is a list of words and phrases that I am confident will help the new England manager bring home the World Cup (to England):

“Give it some welly.” A common phrase with agricultural origins. Due to massive investment shortfalls, in strict arable terms most football pitches in England are actually big bogs of muddy swamp peat or sod where cows go to pat. As a consequence, English footballers traditionally play the game wearing Wellington boots. To “give it some welly” is to hooooooooooooooooooof* the football (“it”) with one of your (two) Wellington boot(s) (“welly” or “wellies”). Whether or not the “welly” needs to be actually attached to your foot in order to “give it some” continues to be a subject of heated debate.

“Get stuck in.” This popular phrase has similar origins to “Give it some welly.” To “get stuck in” is literally to get stuck in the mud because your Wellington boots have sunk into the pitch, rendering you immobile.

“At the end of the day.” A phrase used by footballing people at the beginning of every single sentence they ever speak. For example, “At the end of the day, give it some welly.” or “At the end of the day, get stuck in.”

“It’s a game of two halves.” This phrase recalls the days when underprivileged working-class children used to practice their skills in the streets of Newcastle using an orange (or grapefruit) because their parents were too busy in the pub blowing all their child support money on brown ale to be able to afford to buy their kids a real football. Inevitably, the orange (or grapefruit) would split in half. Hence, “It’s a game of two halves.”

“The boy done good.” “Good” is cockney rhyming slang for “Robin Hood”. To “do” Robin Hood is to have had sexual intercourse with him. So, strictly speaking, “The boy done good” means “The boy is homosexual.”

“Hooooooooooooooooooooof!” From the Latin Huv. Shouted at footballers who are playing like donkeys (donkeys have hoofs). The traditionally poor standard of English football makes “Hooooooooooooooooooooooooof!” a popular chant with fans all over the land.

“You’re playing like a fairy.” From the chapter of the same name in J.M. Barrie’s childrens' classic Peter Pan.

“The Gaffer.” The gaffer is a senior member of a club’s staff who makes lots of gaffs. (Different from “The Guffer,” who is a player who uses his flatulence to propel himself down the wing.)

“He’s only gone down the wing and stuck it in the net, hasn’t he?”
A meaningless phrase. Also see: “He only gone up the wing and stuck it in the net, hasn’t he?”

“Wing(s).” A hairstyle that acts like a parachute when a player is dropped from a great height.

“Giggsy” [etcetera]
The obligatory attaching of a ‘y’ (pronounced: eeeeeeeeeeeee) to the end of every player’s name. So the current England team are officially known as: Robinsony, Richardsy, Ferdinandy, Terryy, Coley, Lampsy, Stevey, Becksy, Rooneyy, and so on until you forget whatever you planned to sayy.

“It’s a funny old game.” Literally, it’s funny when old people try to play the game of football. English comedy is full of classic routines involving geriatric pensioners with Zimmer frames trying to run around a football field and breaking their hip replacements.

“Man on.” See “The boy done good.”

“Kick-off.” A term of abuse, meaning “Go away!”

“By far the greatest team the world has ever seen.” Sung by fans of teams like Scunthorpe United.

“Couldn’t score in a brothel.” An insult never thrown at England star Wayne Rooney, who famously scored in a brothel with a granny called Auld Slapper.

“WAG.” The thing a footballer’s wife or girlfriend does with her painted finger when he refuses to hand over his credit card.

“Selling the dummy.” Literally, off-loading your stupidest player.

“Bung.” This needs no translation to Italians.

© lizardmagazine.com, 2007


For those of you who (like me) are often miffed by the unnecessarily cryptic nature of some of the posting on this blog (mentioning no names, Smyth), I should make it clear right now that my fellow amnesiac [way too cryptic - Eds.] has biffed off to Sri Lanka for real, setting up shop in Colombo, teaching teenage girls home economics, or something. Hence the recent inactivity on Re(AR)view. Hope that's clearasil.

Myself, I just got back from France, which is preferable to Sri Lanka is every way but one: they don't play cricket in France. Fuck knows why. Probo cos they's French. But still... How can any nation pass up the fun that was yesterday at The Oval? (This may be the only mention of England's glorious victoire on this blog, mainly cos when you write funny (innit) it's hard as flambéed horse meat to write earnestly about anything that you can't stop grinning/tearing up about. Shame that.) I did watch a local boules tournament in a local village about the size of my foot. Or, at least, the boules players watched my sister and I as we tried to watch them. Admittedly, together we are very tall, Whop Corn and I (see images below for confirmation), but I thought the general level of staring over the course of our vacay was a little overdone (unlike our steaks, thank Dieu).

Anyhow, somewhat amusingly, I returned to find this message from my fellow amnesiac waiting for me in my inbox, sent about thirty seconds before I hauled ass across La Manche:
Will be getting internet hooked up at home, certainly by the time you're back from France. Post a holding note on the AR, meanwhile, to the effect that we are both away ('but not together...').

Vive la revaluation!
Couldn't have put it better myself. Which is probo why I didn't.

Friday, 14 August 2009

I'm a pervert

I can never hear the lyrics
Take a load off Fanny
Take a load for free
Take a load off Fanny
And you put the load right on me
without thinking... well, you know what.

Bad news bears no gifts

I'm at my parents house. We're off to France tomorrow on a family holiday. It's my sister's idea. She got it into her head some time ago that we should squeeze as many family holidays in as we can while... well, while we're still a nuclear family, I suppose. We did the same thing two years ago, for the first time in fourteen years. It went pretty well. Though I'm hoping this time we can avoid exchanging gunfire.

Anyway, my dad just bounded into the kitchen as I was layering Mexican hot sauce over my tuna salad. "Have you heard the weather forecast for when we're away?" he asked, an enormous grin stretched across his eighty-year-old face. He was out of breath. He'd actually run down from upstairs to deliver this news. "You mean here, in England? No, what?" I responded, clearly not wanting to hear his answer, gearing up to stab the messenger with my fork. Dad just stood there by the fridge, licking his lips, his grin still making him look like The Joker might look after reading The Code of the Woosters. Then, with undisguised glee in his voice to compliment the idiotic facial expression, dad said, "Sunny all week!"

After cursing the gods, I wondered: what is it with people enjoying bad news so much? Really, what are they getting out of it? In this specific case, was dad just happy to have it confirmed by the TV weather girl that sod's law is infallible? Or was he getting a kick out his son's (inevitable) grief at hearing that he's away for the one week of sun Britain will see this summer? Or is he actually happy that all of next week, stuck in the middle of the Loire valley, we'll be sitting around the pool cursing the bloody English weather?

Pulling a leech out of a hat

I just wasted my entire morning at the doctors (really, this time was the biggest waste of time of all time, and I have had more time wasted by more quacks over the past twelve years than anyone on Planet Earth). As I sat reading in the waiting room, surrounded my schweinfluenza victims in shellsuits, my attention was grabbed by the noticeboard directly in front of me. In amongst the usual government posters advertising chlamydia and telling you how to catch a sneeze (information people actually need, judging by even the shortest experience aboard public transport) there was a giant poster that read:

The Friends of [this medical centre] invite you to


Friday, 23rd October, 7:30pm

Nice to see they've got their priorities straight.

All hail the power of the individual

(Thanks to Whop Corn)

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Status anxiety

I finally figured out how to change my Facebook settings from English (Pirate) to English (UK). I was having trouble understanding the Piratespeak. So much so that I couldn't figure out how to change away from it. I was, in a way, held captive by Pirate.

I am now having trouble understanding English (UK). Which, in another way, is a lot scarier.

The prince of tides

I had the good fortune last week to be serenaded at midnight on my birthday by my mates Dent May and his band.

Unfortunately, my camera battery had died and our efforts to record the moment for posterity fell as flat as the damn battery.

However, for a little taster of my joy, you could do a lot worse than check out THIS VERY SPECIAL FOOTAGE of Dent and the boys serenading the lovers and beach bathers on the French Riviera.

By contrast, my serenade went down in Brixton. You can't have everything, I s'pose.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Amnesiac Re(AR)review Goes International!

The Amnesiac Review is proud to announce the official opening of our Colombo office.

Please continue to send all correspondence to the usual address.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Minnie offences

My (gorgeous) friend/landlady Rebecca is (deliberately) feeling morbid today. At least she was, until she saw this news item, and sent it on to me:
Man Convicted of Groping Minnie Mouse at Disney

Published: August 11, 2009

Filed at 12:48 p.m. ET

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- A 60-year-old man has been convicted of groping a woman in a Minnie Mouse costume at Walt Disney World.

John William Moyer of Cressona, Pa., told the judge he is innocent. His son said before sentencing that his father would never inappropriately touch a woman.

He was convicted Tuesday of misdemeanor battery and sentenced to write the victim an apology, serve 180 days probation and complete 50 hours of community service. Moyer must also pay $1,000 in court costs and possibly undergo a mental evaluation.

The victim says she had to do everything possible to keep Moyer's hands off her breasts.
(NYT - yes, really)

Monday, 10 August 2009

Hollywood brings its A-game

The A-Team is/are moving to the big screen in a production rumoured to include actor Liam Neeson (not playing BA Baracus), actor Woody Harrelson (not playing BA Baracus), actor Bradley Cooper (not playing BA Baracus) and rapper Common.

The movie remake will see the Team meeting in Gulf War I - as opposed to Vietnam - and apparently will be "grittier" than the TV version. Says one source in The Metro, "The tone will be closer to the film versions of Mission: Impossible and Ocean's Eleven. People might die, but it'll be the fun kind of dying."

Dying of laughter, presumably...

Seen in Smarden

Countryside, innit.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Scam du jour

For all those lazy students/freelance journalists out there, here is a site that will solve all your deadline troubles.

[NB Off the record, and funny as that site is, the Amnesiac Review suggests you save your five bucks, and just send an e-mail to a non-existent address (your own, for example, with a string of numbers on the end), then FWD the rebounded mail to the correct recipient, pausing only to backdate the relevant details in the new draft...]

Despairing Adolescent

Two important notas you should bene about Rodin's Despairing Adolescent, no date, terracotta:

1) He has no date (see above).

2) He has no dick (see below).

Friday, 7 August 2009

The perils of smoking

A Greek woman accused of setting fire to a British tourist's genitals in Crete has appeared in court.

Maria Fanoudaki, 26, is accused of pouring a glass of Sambuca on his groin and setting it alight in a bar in the resort of Malia.

Her lawyer said the 20-year-old victim had fondled her, and may have sparked the blaze himself while trying to light a cigarette.


Least surprising headline 2009

On research

The things I didn't bother to Google? They happened to me firsthand.
- (Dr.) Denis Leary, Why We Suck: a Feel Good Guide to Staying Fat, Loud, Lazy and Stupid

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Random, but kind of connected, thoughts

1. NewsCorp lost $3.4bn last year. Mainly thanks to giving away free online content.
2. The Amnesiac Review lost somewhere in the same region.
3. Thom Yorke says, "If you forget about the money issue for just a minute – if it's possible to do that, because it's people's livelihoods we're talking about – and you look at [the digitalisation of music] in terms of the most amazing broadcasting network ever built, then it's completely different."
4. Someone I know who may or may not be intimately connected to the music industry says, "I’m gonna hunt him down and slap him. Such a righteous prick. SO easy to say when you’re eight albums down the line on someone else’s promotional money. Ignorant prick."
5. There's a sect of fetishists called Feeders. Look it up for yourselves.

Quality Journalism Quote of the Day

"Nothing ruins a friendship quicker than inappropriate urination."
Lucy Mangan, smart lass, in the Guardian.

According to today's Guardian

61% of 15- to 24-year-olds don't think they should pay for music.

Two things:

1. Is that all?
2. Why?

No, really, why? I'm not judging. I just want to know. Why should music (or, ahem, words...) be free? I am yet to hear a/the good/decent/bad argument for this. Maybe I don't hang around enough 16-year-olds, or something (though nobody could accuse me of not trying). But what is their argument? Do they actually have one? How is demanding music be free any different than, say, me thinking Volvos or MacBooks should be free just cos I don't wanna pay for one?

Someone, please tell me. I'm an open-minded guy. It's just that - call me old-fashioned - but I cannot get my noggin around the idea that it's my right to own somebody else's creative output. (Or am I still not getting this?)


"In Britain, there is something close to despair among academicsn about the political process. Drugs are classified A, B and C, allegedly according to the degree of harm. But the theory ignores the immutable constitutional provision that laws are subject to the approval of the editor of the Daily Mail."
- Matthew Engel in the FT magazine.

p.s. Further down, Engel writes, "In Britain, with its top-down system of government, a notionally left-of-centre but illiberal administration and a hysterical press..." which I think is as neat a description of life here as you could ask for.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Young Republiguns

Best of PJ O'Rourke (before he became an old republicun'):

On the bourgeois condition

When the gods would form an ass,
First they make him middle-class,
Give him comic cares and woes,
And let his wife pick out his clothes.

On education

Education is not just a matter of learning things. There's a difference between learning and knowledge. It's the difference between Christy Turlington's phone number and Christy Turlington.

On arguing with the women in your life

If you can't prevail over an aged woman whose every weakness and foible you know and with whom you have been contending your entire life, how do you expect to do against a team from out of town?

On war

I know why most societies don't allow women in combat. Combat is just a battle to the death. You don't want it to turn into something really ugly like a marriage.

On writing careers

There is one thing worse than writing (I mean, other than getting a real job or cancer) - promoting what you've written.

On nascent writing careers

Good reporters don't ask any [interview] questions because they are too busy getting drunk with the author. The only decent questions come from the young reporters, who ask "Is writing really better than getting a real job or cancer?"

On music

Rock lyrics don't give rock musicians adequate scope for full intellectual expression because so few words rhyme with boogie.

On anatomy

For a purely untrustworthy human organ, the memory is right in there with the penis.

On fashion

Miniskirts caused feminism.
NB This all from one chapter - 'Essays, Prefaces, Speeches, Reviews and Things Jotted on Napkins' - of Age And Guile (beat Youth, Innocence, and a Bad Haircut)

NB'issimi Age And Guile (PB edition) was a loving and generous leaving present from my fellow Amnesiac... who naturally kept the hardback copy for himself.

Thought for the day

Was Shakespeare actually a woman?
"I and my bosom must debate awhile,
And then I would no other company"
--Henry V, 4.1.31-32
(Thanks to Dee Dee for the question)

No shit

This - word for word - courtesy of Googleads:

Poo poo lesbians doing the poo poo
at least one new video per week!
(Follow link at your peril. And no, I won't tell you what I was searching for.)

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Wise words

"Piece of advice: don't let all these well-intentioned advisors mess you up."
- Congressman Matthew Santos, The West Wing

The perfect mensch

[Thanks to Jewdas]

I am not a journalist

And here's why.

Monday, 3 August 2009

And somewhat to my surprise

I am a center-right social libertarian
Right: 1.37, Libertarian: 5.32

Political Spectrum Quiz

I'm intrigued. Where did my fellow amnesiac and I diverge?

I'm guessing he voted against marijuana being legalised (the fascist), while I voted (without enthusiasm) in favour of a statement like 'A person's morality is between him and God, and no business of the government' (I can't remember the exact wording; I'm listening to TMS).

I was also hugely enthusiastic about gay issues, whereas everyone knows my fellow amnesiac is hiding in the closet like a choirboy who doesn't want his throat baptized by the choirmaster.

But even more terrifying than the results - I'm more RIGHT-WING than HIM? - was my near total failure to cast a vote on most of the issues.

I reckon about 80% of the time I voted 'neutral'. Which basically means I don't actually hold any opinions about most of the major issues of our time. And my neutrality was most evident on the big questions, too, like 'Should we intervene in foreign affairs/start wars against dictators/embark on humanitarian missions/rebuild nations/save the world/protect democracy/etc?' Whereas I was all 'STRONGLY DISAGREE' with statements like 'Bongs should be confiscated by the FBI'.

This shouldn't be a problem, in normal circumstances. But... Well, it's just that I used to work as a (sort-of) political commentator (of sorts). What the fuck was I ever doing?

Somewhat to my surprise

My Political Views
I am a centrist moderate social libertarian
Left: 0.85, Libertarian: 1.94


The 'Average'

I'm not sure what's more mortifying: to discover that I'm actually LEFT of centre, or that I'm there with... everyone else.

[Thanks to the Political Spectrum Quiz)

Chatterday Night Live

"Don't take what I'm going to say as a reason to disagree with me..."
- Dominic Hilton

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Finally, conclusive proof that an English girl will do anything (by which I mean, shave her arse) if she's had enough to drink

(Thanks to RN)

Recent Facebook activity

ASH Smyth rejected a Smile on Slide FunSpace
ASH Smyth declined to join Anyone selling a folding bike?
ASH Smyth ignored an invitation to High Noon to Jacko's Hour
ASH Smyth refused to add his birthday to some bloke's MyCalendar
ASH Smyth RSVP'd in the negative to Six Tricks' Summer Serenade
ASH Smyth will not sign up to The "Day Without Facebook"
ASH Smyth is resolutely neutral when it comes to waging Mafia Wars
ASH Smyth cannot help Find Libby somewhere to live
ASH Smyth does not care What [His] Name Really Means

Fair warning

Seriously funny

You can say serious things through the medium of comedy. You just can't really mean them.

Checking my junk

credibly beanbag

A S H Smyth
You're a twat. (test)

Friday, 31 July 2009

Thought for the day

"I'm of two minds - whether to skilfully weave my personal history into the warp and woof of a subtle plot structure that evolves through the play and counterplay of mimetic imagery to reveal my narrative point of view as an integral part of this literary work, or whether to just dump my life story into your lap out of sheer lack of writing ability."
- P.J. O'Rourke, Unpaid Bills

Gainful unemploy

Joyce: Did you have anything to do with his brother's death?

Mike: Yes.

Joyce: This is what comes of having no regular job.
- Joe Orton, The Ruffian on the Stair

Creative destruction

"It is every aspect of my life. It is destroying every relationship in my life. I am having an affair with it. I am obsessed with it 24 hours a day... I am constantly in a terror about failing, like all artists."
- Matt Weiner, creator [as in, writer] of the incomparably brilliant Mad Men.

Titles gone begging - 9

Vaticanimation: a complete history of popes in celluloid.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Why we write (sort of)

"The torpor of his mind renders him not only incapable of relishing or bearing a part in any rational conversation, but of conceiving any generous, noble, or tender sentiment, and consequently of forming any just judgement concerning many even of the ordinary duties of private life."
- Adam Smith [with an 'i'], on people with jobs.

Writer's Re: Treat

From my fellow amnesiac, en Espana:
"A sunny Spanish villa stocked with Rioja and bikini-clad women is not the peaceful working environment one might think..."

A little bit of Ceylon (in Brixton)

Interview with artist/author/lecturer Roma Tearne.

Getting vocal

Her: "When did you become such an outspoken arse?"

Me: "When I learned to talk."


"Another awful place is Burton-on-Trent..."
- Sally 'Traffic' Boazman (who should also be credited with one of the more honest online biogs)

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Right! Who borrowed my phone?

I was trying to send someone a message the other day that required the use of the word frump.

Needless to say, my phone did not recognise it; but what it did have - DEF, PQRS, TUV, MNO... (feel free to check) - was '3SUM'.

As though I'd ever spell it like that!

The problem, nutshelled

"We spent almost all our time together, partly working but mostly sitting around, lying around, driving around, and talking constantly, all day and all night, as only very young people can, about everything that can be imagined, which is to say about nothing that can be recalled."
- P.J. O'Rourke, Age and Guile

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Lord of the Land

"Hunter was my friend and neighbour, the man who never paid his rent, broke up my marriage, and taught my children to smoke dope."
- George Stranahan, landlord of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson.

Martin Luther King (in context)

"I have a dream. You know that one where you're falling..."

Try and make it to

I hope to be there.


"I began to write for pay in the spring of 1970, albeit that the pay was mostly peanut butter sandwiches and mattress space. The mattress was not very clean. But neither was I."
- P.J. O'Rourke, Age and Guile


"The thing about tennis is that I'll never be as good as a wall. I played a wall once. They're fucking relentless."
- Mitch Hedberg (as seen in Charlie Brooker's column yesterday).

I honestly didn't know

that my fellow amnesiac ran the 200m.

Taking the peas


Monday, 27 July 2009

Has anyone seen Prince Michael 2?

Tito’s children were also in a band, called 3T. They are called Taj, Taryll and TJ. TJ stands for Tito Joe. The Jacksons like to name their children after themselves. Jermaine has a child called Jermajesty. Michael called his children Michael, Paris-Michael and Prince Michael.
- Sam Leith, Prospect


"If I’d been burned alive because of bad grades, my parents would have killed me"
- David Sedaris

When school was finished, I went back home, an Ivy League graduate with four years’ worth of dirty laundry and his whole life ahead of him. “What are you going to do now?” my parents asked.

And I said, “Well, I was thinking of washing some of these underpants.”

That took six months. Then I moved on to the shirts.

“Now what?” my parents asked.

And, when I told them I didn’t know, they lost what little patience they had left. “What kind of a community-college answer is that?” my mother said. “You went to the best school there is—how can you not know something?”

And I said, “I don’t know.”
All taken, of course, from this mini-masterpiece.


1. David Cameron seems to have gotten hold of a copy of my manuscript.

2. There's such a thing as the 'London 2012 Countdown Coin'. Available from the Royal Mint for just £5.

3. Really.


"Jacques Chirac watched sumo wrestling"
- The Guardian


If they're always repairing the London Underground, how come it never works?

Sexual advisory

Never kick a man when he's going down.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

As reported by Jeremy Vine

London DJ hypersensitive to WiFi
All I want to know is, if he hangs around outside my house, can he eavesdrop on my e-mails?


"It's easy to be cynical. But it's also fun. So carry on: well done!"
- Ken 'I'm not Wogan!' Bruce.


I told the dentist, 'My jaw is inflamed and I'm pretty sure it's my wisdom teeth: it's probably time to have them out.'

He looked in my mouth and said, 'Your jaw is inflamed and it's your wisdom teeth: maybe it's time to have them out.'

I paid him £45 and left.


To Amazon, Moss Bros, my first primary-school teacher and anyone else perplexed by issues of basic spelling, my name is not SMITH.

Thank you for listening.

Spam du jour

Masturzo Nogoda
(No, I didn't open it.)

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Bona find

Thanks to my fellow Amnesiac, I was researching 'grilling beards' on Urban Dictionary (I had a hunch...) when I came across this:

1. grilled piece of shit
cock who [sic.] has just been in a gay ass
Hey John please take your grilled piece of shit out of my ass
There's no such thing as useless knowledge; but what really got me was the follow-up link:

get this def on a mug

The Amnesiac Review recommends...

Robert Twigger and his new novel, Dr Ragab's Universal Language.

My bird, on theatregoers

"Why do people go to the theatre? Is it so they can eat dinner at 5:30?"

Swine flu

Still, at least it wasn't a virus.


Answer: Shit loads. Obviously.

Overheard on the baseball commentary just now

"Who cares if you can write if you can make plays like that?"
I guess those who can't make plays like that, write. (And those who can't write plays, make like that.)

Titles gone begging - 8

Wheezy Listening: Classicfm and its listeners.

Friday, 24 July 2009

Overheard at work today

Frumpy primary school 'teacher': "So, how did you get into painting and decorating, then?"

My brother Jake: "I did a degree in African and Middle Eastern history."


"I’m very good at accepting my flaws. It’s one of the few things I’m good at."
- Patrick Marber

Literary coincidence(?)

Sir Conrad Black and Jonathan Aitken MP both wrote biographies of Richard Nixon.

Both men were later sent to prison.

Launch of The Essentials

in which the Amnesiacs did not double-team actress Charity Wakefield.

Get your lips off my rim!

Yesterday, I heard on the radio that the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have made an emergency ruling against the sharing of the chalice during Communion, in an effort to help cut down the transmission of swine flu.

I am reminded of the sad tale of Louis XVII (yes, there was: don't start with me), who died, aged 10, of scrofula - a disease the divinely-appointed Kings of France were supposed to be able to cure by the laying on of hands.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

I must know

Is this a joke, or what?

David Thompson

puts words into Humphrey Bogart's mouth:

Look, I'm hardly pretty, he seems to say. I sound like gravel; I look rough and tough; and, honest, I don't give you the soft, foolish answers the pretty boys will give you. You may not like what I say, but you better believe it.

Jesus (in context)

"My father's house has many rooms... All of them full of junk."

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Essential info

The authors of this blog

used to have great admiration for all things Charlize Theron.

And then, this:

Sorry, Charlize. It's over.

COULDN'T MAKE IT UPDATE: "Demi Moore's actor husband Ashton had the best seats in the venue as he sat at the end of Chelsea's bench with his Kabbalah teacher Yehuda Berg."

Holy fucking


On women

VF: What is the quality you most like in a woman?
WC: I’m strongly urged by advisers not to say “moral laxity,” so let’s say “sense of humor.”
- Walter Cronkite, interviewed by Vanity Fair

SHE: 'You don't like intelligent women, that's why you're disagreeing with me.'
ME: 'I do like intelligent women, but sadly you're not one of them.'
- peaceable philosopher type, Alain de Botton

The wisdom of Paul Richards

"I've not been taught to write properly; but the good thing is that nowadays that doesn't matter."
- PR, biographer, singer and school-teacher (ret.)

Aesthetics 101

To make a thing deliberately beautiful is a dastardly act.
- Louis I Kahn, high-flying architect.

To make a thing deliberately ugly is a bastardly act.
- ASH Smyth, low-flying critic.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009


An old friend called, in a flap because, for various reasons - emotional, logistical, and precautionary - she has been driven to re-filing her ex-boyfriend's number under 'NO!!'

'Will that work?' I asked, incredulous.

'Well, it did with you.'

Funnily enough...

my phone does not (did not) recognise the adverb 'funnily'.

This is surprising - not to say ominous.

Thought for the day

"[I]n a single morning I would go through the emotions ascribable to Wellington at Waterloo. I lived in a world of inscrutable hostiles and inalienable friends and supporters."
- F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Crack-Up.

On politics

A politician is anyone who asks individuals to surrender part of their liberty.
- PJ O'Rourke

Titles Gone Begging - 7

From Pharaohs to Fair Dos: developing good governance in the ancient world

Monday, 20 July 2009


Westport, Conn.

BOOKSTORES are getting shipments of a significantly changed edition of Ernest Hemingway’s masterpiece, “A Moveable Feast,” first published posthumously by Scribner in 1964. This new edition, also published by Scribner, has been extensively reworked by a grandson who doesn’t like what the original said about his grandmother, Hemingway’s second wife.

The grandson has removed several sections of the book’s final chapter and replaced them with other writing of Hemingway’s that the grandson feels paints his grandma in a more sympathetic light. Ten other chapters that roused the grandson’s displeasure have been relegated to an appendix, thereby, according to the grandson, creating “a truer representation of the book my grandfather intended to publish.”

(Thanks to Maggie)

Thought for the day

I want to be
so I can be
about being

What good is my
when I am
in this
- David Budbill, Dilemma

(Thanks to Dee Dee)

The death of ASH Smyth, freelancer

Via text message:
'Am painting a primary school (or the 'ICT suite' of one, anyway). You wouldn't BELIEVE the mistakes on the walls. It's killing me!'

Sunday, 19 July 2009

The past vs. the present

Even the bad things are better than they used to be. Bad music, for instance, has gotten much briefer. Wagner's Ring Cycle takes four days to perform while 'Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm' by the Crash Test Dummies lasts little more than three minutes.
- PJ O'Rourke tackles the Generation Xperts, in All the Trouble in the World

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Advice to parents

"If you bring a child up to think for himself, don't be surprised when he does."
- John Higham, father of

Friday, 17 July 2009

Literarily: the tragically predictable sequel

My father calls me into the study. I find him staring at his computer.

Me: Yes?
Him: Thanks for sending me this 'Books' thing.
Me: Er, sure.
Him: I've clicked on the link.
Me: Yup...
Him: How do I look at the rest of the blog?
Me: Oh, right. You click on Amnesiac Review at the top there.

He clicks. Large picture of small man on panto horse being touched inappropriately by medium-sized, bearded man.

Me: [Hurriedly] Um, but you don't need to click through to that because I specifically sent you the relevant post.
Him: OK.


Him: So what d'you want me to do with it?
Me: Eh?
Him: What am I supposed to do with the link?
Me: Nothing. Well, laugh. It's funny, right? Things Fall Apart on a books conservation site?
Him: So why's there a link to the British Library?
Me: Nggghhh... [Long slow breath] Just in case anyone was in any doubt that there actually is a book by that name - it wouldn't be funny if I'd made it up... You HAVE heard of it?
Him: Yes, it's by Chinua Achebe.
Me: Correct.
Him: But -
Me: Never mind... [leaving]
Him: So you don't want me to adopt a book?
Me: NO!

Thursday, 16 July 2009


The British Library is asking for sponsors to help cover the cost of restoring some 200 selected titles in their collection.

One of the books on offer is Things Fall Apart.

World's greatest lyric singer

... gets touched up by Sting.

[Thanks to Benedict Hymas. (Your grubnuts are in the post.)]

Least surprising headline

in rock and roll history. Here.

[See also - 'all that's worst about life in the USA.']

Brilliant stuff

from Geoff Dyer:
"Conceived as a distraction, it immediately took on the distracted character of that from which it was intended to be a distraction, namely myself."
- from Page 1 (God help me!) of Out of Sheer Rage.

Somewhat overdue, but still...

Seeing Oasis live, at Wembley.

Thought for the day

"[H]e could pass the entire day in a twilight of boredom and arousal."
- Ian McEwan, On Chesil Beach

Glass of water on a shelf half empty

This approach – passionate about the work, doubtful of economic reward – has always been the best attitude for an artist to have throughout history. It costs money to be a student and they expect it to cost money to be an artist: making films, printing photographs, buying canvases. But it's something they have to do. They are what you might call hardheaded dreamers. Art, says Underhill, "is a strange relationship that you have with yourself".
From here.

(Thanks to RN MA)

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Thought for the day

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage."
- Anaïs Nin.

And so does something else.

Overheard in the coffee shop

A pair of aging/aged rockers, sipping Coca-Cola, munching on goats cheese salad baguettes. Says one rocker to the other rocker (in a perfect Ozzy Osbourne/Nigel Tuffnel accent):
"Oh, man, I haven't had sex in six months."

Philosophy of balls #3

It's not that I lack 'that killer instinct'.

It's that I lack 'those killer skills'.

The ultimate eulogy

"His death has shocked anyone who had any contact with him or knew his work. The drugs were all there in the artwork (and the rumours), but so was a sense of real beauty and honesty. It wasn't necessarily the aesthetic of his work, but its independence that made it so influential. He simply didn't give a shit."
Francesca Gavin on Dash Snow.

(Thanks to RN MA.)

Research LATEST

So do women.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Philosophy of balls #2

Every summer, there comes a moment where the Smyth family tennis balls are discovered to be flat beyond use. Curiously, this revelation always occurs during a match which I lose.

Overheard at the Salem Public Library, Vol. 3

1. "I'm not sure if you're the person to ask, but I'm interested in how someone would perform an exorcism..."

2. Man on phone: "What are your hours today?" Me: "10am to 5pm" Man on phone: "Ok...and you're open?"

3. Crazy man to me: "Do you like working here? Do you like ALL the books? I bet you don't like novels. Doris Day!"

Patron Names of the Weekend: Twinkle Yumasi & Yu Hu

(Courtesy of Mrs. Dee Dee "Suck on my pencil" Cusack.)

Google ads

This just appeared on the Amnesiac Review/blogger dashboard...

Sofa Rash Compensation
Helping Sofa Rash & Burn sufferers
100% Compensation - No Win No Fee
What key word triggered THAT?!

Reality TV pitch

"fat asthmatic kid with claustrophobia and allergic to bee stings, in a small room, with 1 bee released into the room every 2 minutes, and a tennis racquet with only 4 strings to ward them off – kid must remain in the room for 24 hours to win ?10k."
[Thanks to PC, all round fop and master torturer]

Submission guidelines

3) The Puritan's only mandate is quality. Or literary celebrity.
Alas, like so many publications, The Puritan is no more.

I don't mean to quibble...

East-European szhppam

"Престижные часы Patek Philippe, Rado, Hublot. Экономьте в кризис, цены от 7475 рублей.‏"
All I really want to know is - How does 'Donnie Eubanks' know I speak Russian?!

Monday, 13 July 2009

InDefinition - Guest Entry

Specialist, n. Someone whose expertise is breadth-taking.
- Julian Baggini

The philosophy of balls #1

When I was about 10 someone told me I was a 'serve-and-volley' kind of guy.

That advice has stuck with me.

I serve, I volley... I hope like hell that nothing else is required.

Travel advisory

For rockers:


From my (newly-wed) pal Dr. Björn Öldbean:
"India is always interesting. Out on the street just now I heard lots of drums being beaten, and when I looked a tightrope had been set up and a kid was walking across it with a water jar on her head."

Overheard at the Salem Public Library, Vol. 2

1. Five-year-old boy to other child's grandmother: "So, what kind of car do YOU drive?"

2. Confused little girl to mother: "Happy Thanksgiving!"

3. "I'm looking for a boy, his name is Benjamin, I call him Ben WHERE IS HE?!"

4. Crazy Obese Lady wearing a crop top and plastic bags on her hands: "Has my copy of House Beautiful arrived yet?"

Patron Names of the Week: Marisa Flomp & Randy Paradise

(Courtesy of Mrs. Dee Dee Cusack.)

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Extracts from B&Q pamphlet

Rent the Rug Doctor
... and put the Freshness back with professional results everytime!

Do you remember...

How good it looked?
How soft it felt?
That fresh smell?

Although it's lightweight and easy to use the Rug Doctor has the power to remove the dirt other cleaners leave behind.

With our unique vibrating brush system... why pay for a professional service when you can do it yourself for so much less and at a time that suits you?

Friday, 10 July 2009


My girlfriend................................... .....My... oh.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Answer to Ashes-related Question of the day

A 'faece-wipe', surely?

Ashes-related Question of the day

"What's the collective noun for a collection of shit-eating grins?"
- Jack Sandham, again.

Question of the day

"What's the writing equivalent of dropping your pick into your guitar?"
- Jack Sandham

Mein Digital Era Kampf

[Thanks to AH, after Everett True]

InDefinition - 7

singletonne, n. Unattached female, often for obvious reasons. (Orig. Fr.)


Life is the bind that glues us together.

Voice breaking news

King of Pop Dead At 12

My (American) girlfriend, on The Ashes

"So, which teams are playing today?"

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Beyond criticism

I shall not see - and don't I know 'em?
A critic lovely as a poem.
- Dorothy Parker, Song in the Worst Possible Taste, For a Certain Mr. S., Who Got Too Personal

(Thanks to Sancho Panties)

What's that scraping noise?

As located in my girlfriend's spambox, so to speak:
From: ED Pills News

Subject: Your wang will reach ceiling

A right festive cluster

[With thanks to Mr Christian Goursaud, for actually being in the damn thing.]

Luther (in context)

"Here I stand... It's my piles..."

Porcine point-scoring

According to Facebook, my mate Rich knows* two women by the name(s) of Rosie Hogflesh and Ellie Wildbore.

Apparently he also knows someone called Jennifer Herron, though, so I don't think he's trying to set a trend, or anything.

* not necessarily in the Biblical sense, you understand.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Of divers colours

London's fashionistas show us how it's done.

Booze just in

Alcohol shoves a grandiose but nervous mind into a trench of this world and fills it with impatience about the future.
- Dr. Arnold Mandell, co-chair psychiatry dept., UCSD

Overheard on the train

"'This train is the service to Canterbury West'? Is that right?"
"Yes. It's going all the way down there."
Excerpted from a long and painful conversation between two old bags (+ luggage) - the sort who have to touch each other's knees when they say something of monumental import, who never sit near you when you've actually got your iPod, and who you know, instinctively and immediately, will be with you for the full duration of your journey.

Other highlights include: an uncle's forthcoming medical procedure (rights and wrongs thereof); feebly risqué references to husband and the "or pear" [au pair, for those readers who don't speak Sarfeast]; "Are you happy to sit facing the way we're going?" (x4); and "There's Battersea."

At one point, one of them spends a full five minutes trying to write and despatch an SMS.


"Ooh! Message from Sue [both chuckle, apropos of nothing]. I said to her 'if you're not on time, don't worry, we'll wait.'"

InDefinition - 6

Marxist feminism, n. No sex for everyone


I've seen everything.

I think I just vommed a little

in my mouth.

Monday, 6 July 2009



Amnesiac Recommends

Wherein it is hoped that Tim FitzHigham, FRGS, Bt. will be giving the Amnesiacs a massive plug.

(Click image to book - and say 'Bath' to get a £2 discount per ticket.)

Overheard in charity shop

... by the book section:

Old crone: Which bit of history are you most interested in?

Young crone: Any bit, as long as it doesn't feel like a waste of time.
While trying to come up with a witticism involving historians repeating one another (and wits, likewise), I confess I felt a nagging sympathy for my fellow customer's quandary.

How many men does it take...

Three men came round to lay a carpet today.

Two did the fitting, while one sat in the van, on the kerb, for the duration.

Loo x 2

My father recently repainted the downstairs bathroom.

He moved the mirror from the wall to the window-sill, and hasn't put it back yet.

Now every time I use the toilet I have to watch myself pee, in stereo.

'Ograsm'? As in Shrek?

How too Give a Woman an Ograsm That Will Have Her Dragging You Back Night After Night For More‏
- Sender's name, no jokes: Mausoleum.

Thought for the day

If ignorance is bliss, why keep dentists in college for the better part of a decade?

Sunday, 5 July 2009

The Amnesinsomniac Review

Advice for Insomnia
  • Avoid caffeine.
  • Don't drink before bed.
  • Don't eat too much before bed.
  • Take a bath before bed.
  • Exercise.
  • Sleep alone.
- Taken from The Skinny: On Losing Weight Without Being Hungry by Louis J. Arrone, M.D. The last piece of advice actually goes on to say, "Many people wake less often if they sleep alone, away from the distractions of a spouse or pet."

So now I'm wondering: if you couldn't make it up, what's the point in writing fiction?

Er, run that one by me again, will you, pal?

"There may be more of them [professional journalists], not fewer, as the ability to participate in journalism extends beyond the credentialed halls of traditional media. But they may be paid far less, and for many it won’t be a full time job at all. Journalism as a profession will share the stage with journalism as an avocation. Meanwhile, others may use their skills to teach and organize amateurs to do a better job covering their own communities, becoming more editor/coach than writer. If so, leveraging the Free—paying people to get other people to write for non-monetary rewards—may not be the enemy of professional journalists. Instead, it may be their salvation."
- From Free: The Future of a Radical Price by Chris Anderson, editor of Wired magazine. (See Malcolm Gladwell's New Yorker review here.)

For what it's worth, I'm assuming the techno-utopian Anderson was paid for his book, sells copies of it, and charges for a copy of his magazine.

It's a bitch convincing people to like you

I could tell that Perry was held in ungrudging affection, which in Dublin meant that a writer was too old or too chronically a failure to provoke envy.
- Hugh Leonard, Fillums

Saturday, 4 July 2009

The 15(b) golden rules of theatre etiquette

... according to Benedict Nightingale and me:

15b (and corringendum)
Do NOT, under any circumstances, sniff. If you're ill, stay at home; if you're just ill-bred, stay out of the theatre.

Top of her class-consciousness

“I didn’t realise before That Face that writing about the middle classes so scathingly was quite a rare thing. But there’s no mystery as to why I write from that perspective. I’m middle-class.”
- under-age playwright, Polly Stenham

Friday, 3 July 2009

The post-Blur blur


Just out of interest, what's so great about the great unwashed?


Amnesiac Review offices, SE24

In Ernes'

To drop one 't' may be regarded as a misfortune. To drop two looks like Kentishness.

Revelatory trivia

Hitler was a chorister.

That is all.

Overheard at the Salem Public Library, Vol. 1

1. Old lady, looking at a copy of "A Time To Kill" by John Grisham: "Oh that's nice, you never seem to be able to plan hacking someone to pieces, it just sort of...happens."

2. "Excuse me, could you help me find a book? I don't know the title. It's by a female author from the South who may or may not be dead. She writes stories. Have you read it?"

3. "I'm pretty sure Flannery O'Connor is a dude."

4. "And that's why the Goddess gave us boobs."

(Courtesy of Mrs. Dee Dee Cusack, sexy cardigan-wearing pencil-chewing seductress extraordinaire.)

Not even my own

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Smyth says

"Give a man a fish and he'll feed himself for a day. Give a man a hat and he'll be an arsehole for the rest of his life."


This just in from my mate Jack:
"Hello Tiger Bone, How are you? I just got back from the sex farm. The german Springsteen impersonator 'Springstein' was particularly gut. My favourite songs Donner Bahn and Tanzen in der Dunkel."


Henry Dingle on MySpace

Vive la barbe!

Am musician. Have beard.

Nuff said.


Now is your chance. Ambitious publisher is looking for journalists who know and love sports and who wouldn't mind living in the tropical paradise of Puerto Rico.
Unfortunately, this position was advertised in 1959 - and was filled by one Hunter S Thompson.

Also, I wouldn't say I know about sport(s), exactly...

Not in front of the choristers!

Fitting tribute to Michael 'Beat It with both manuals' Jackson.

(It's not just me, is it? You can actually hear congregants laughing... Nuff respeck.)

Housemaid's knee

In a moment of self-indulgence this morning, I tried searching for 'Smyth' in the archives of a regional newspaper to which I am a frequent contributor.

Results returned:

'Super Smyth in four-goal blitz' (setting the standard)
'Smyth and Beer both bag four' (standard night out)
'Hawks at bottom' (standard night in)
'Oxon's freak goal in vain' (standard shrink's assessment)
'Bank bans customer for boob joke' (Evening Standard)
Tragically, not one of these has anything to do with me.

NB Unlike Nixon or Vaughan, Smyth does not traditionally refer to himself in the third person.