Monthly Archives: March 2015

Lazy, Jeff Koons and pics

I have been quite lazy and neglected blogging. Actually I have nothing much to report. Been quite busy with university work and TV Box sets. Oh yes I have become obsessed with Jeff Koons who I have always secretly admired but now openly worship. So much so that I have been seeking to emulate his joyous art by collecting EBay bits that are struck with the same exuberant spirit. So below I present a mix of Koons and my E-Bay purchases- absurdly cheap btw. Enjoy


Jeff_Koons_f6b0db_c  pussyjeffkoonsmichaelandbubbles onyxjeff-koons-lead-image-whitneyJournalists look at a sculpture before the opening of a Jeff Koons retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New Yorklucite Winter Bears 1988 by Jeff Koons born 1955onyx tablekoons  murano

Review of me, hens, ducks, pigeons, Russian, nostalgia etc

Beware stream of egotistical consciousness alert ……………

It feels like time for an annual me review. It must be coming up for a year since I was diagnosed, to be honest I cannot remember as I have no interest in dates. I am ashamed to say I still cannot reliably cite my children’s birthdays – Maria is disgusted. Anyway I am certainly much fitter than I was a year ago, my spirits are excellent and the outlook is positive. I am bored with having cancer and would like to move on but resigned to that not being possible ever. I have been very powerfully supported by my wonderful family, near and far. End of review. Bored with that idea.

Much more about me – I feel less mouthy than I did when I first started this blog. Being off steroids may account for that. I keep thinking I am going to get ‘blogged out’ but actually the blog, the poetry, the compositions, the shopping, the new style reading are my way of hanging onto a new kind of me. I much prefer this me to the old, pre-ill me. I am extremely clear about what I want, what I like, what makes me happy. Previously I thought purposeful work was the meaning of life, now purposeless dreaming seems closer to the truth. Like the chap in this picture of my birth place. The fact that the image is not very scenic (the village itself is famously scenic) means I find it extremely resonant of my childhood. It seems dreamily real, if that is not an oxymoron.

Very near where I was born - but this is probably 1900

Very near where I was born – but this is probably 1900

Having time to read the news, having time and the inclination to read fiction has led me firmly toward a radicalisation of my previous limp self, politics and philosophy. I am much more aggressive about what I think but as fundamentally inactive as I ever was. All that political nonsense I spout on about – It really is all hot air! That’s a shame – I am an ‘inactivist.’

I am newly inspired by nostalgia. Memories of this, that and the other have become distinct and powerful as though they needed time and space to crystallise. I think creatively in sepia tones (great spell correct – septic tones) like the picture above,- conversely George showed me some absolutely amazing pictures by a pioneering Russian photographer Prokudin-Gorsky who invented a colour photography process. The pictures speak for themselves. I cannot describe how ruthlessly they strip away sepia memories and bring the past into the now – effectively the opposite to all my current creative work but incredibly powerful even so.

Daily Life in Russia from The Russian Empire, circa 1907-1909 (3)

This girl was photographed in about 1909 – time collapses in this image – it/she is here now

This antithetical force between the then and the now, driven as it has been by my attic discoveries will be one of the lasting gifts of this illness – it’s a bit of me that has been missing and I really value it.


Pigeon lamp. Famous for not exploding.

This is actually an exact replacement for an attic discovery. Its a French ‘Pigeon Lamp’ given to me by my Uncle George when I was about 8. The original leaked so I sold it and replaced it with one that didn’t. Harsh perhaps.

My favourite recent E-Bay purchase – look at the cute face. 4.99

Animals – Hens have appeared in our back field right outside our windows. I adore them.


Outside my study window – no zoom

I have always wanted geese but hens will do. Geese partly because they are so  bad tempered but also such a beautiful shape. I was a student at York university that has loads of geese coz of the the 1960’s open plan, listed, ugly, giant, water features. The geese do not want to be petted at all. I tried many times and dodged many a peck. For some reason the Chinese students are infatuated and more persistent and I have seen many a PhD computer scientist in flight from an angry mummy goose in full hissy fit. Back to the hens Nonna, an expert on such things is concerned about the fox. I am more concerned about our cats eating them, one has already been ‘clipped’ by a greyhound, but happily our two cats seem completely uninterested or possibly frightened. True the cockerel is big and  scary but I find it very curious that the cats don’t chase the hens. Is this some kind of ‘Ardman’ or ‘Babe’ style pact or are country cats naturally respectful of farmyard animals? It feels so rural to have them scratting about just outside the window. I often wander round the back of the house to check for rats and enjoy the company of the hens who are wary but not afraid of me. I am determined to pet them eventually. On the subject of birds I read a story in the news about the habit of jackdaws delivering shiny presents, toys and trinkets they find, to people who have been kind to them. It seems there is quite a lot of anecdotal and recorded evidence. If it’s true I am certainly seeking one out and offering charity in the hope of finding a discarded chewing gum wrapper left on my doorstep. This quasi toy town existence, hens, jackdaws, poodles, cats is not…. Oh I forgot. I have been bought a fountain and it now works. Proper stone, cherubs, the works. It’s brilliantly kitsch. For those of you who have seen ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’ – more modest than that – but you get the idea.

Bye for now x





The law, a child, a bike with stabilisers, the pavement.


The law is not the law!

A little girl riding a bike with stabilisers on the pavement is reprimanded and told her bike might be confiscated because ‘the law is the law.’ Nothing gets me crosser than this rejoinder ‘the law is the law.’ Apart from the fact that as far as I can see it means nothing it’s the sort of people who are likely to say it, that really get my goat, and that’s not just police officers. The law is a temporary construct designed to control behaviour such that humans fit in with a transitory notion of what is socially acceptable. As such the values it seeks to enforce should be under constant scrutiny. It should never ever be regarded as absolute it should never ever be exercised by anyone who does not have an acute appreciation of subtlety, ambiguity and nuance. Shame on the police officer concerned, let’s hope she/he is sent back to police school to learn common sense.

Short Story by Avani Shah – ‘Mira/Meera’ published

I am so delighted that Avani Shah (George Newell’s girlfriend) has had a short story ‘Mira/Meera’ published in a prestigious collection. The collection entitled ‘Words and Women – Two’ was launched on Sunday. There is a print edition and it is available for Kindle on Amazon.

Print edition:

Kindle edition:


I think there is a formula for worry and it is as follows:

(Personal preponderance x seriousness) x worry space available at that moment

PP x S is fairly obvious. For example – if you are a right worry guts, score say 10 and the problem is big, say 8, that produces a score of 80 – pretty high. On the other hand someone who does not worry, with a pp of 2, with same serious issue will score only 16, pretty low. Where my formula is brilliant is the additional calculation for available worry space. For example – if you are really busy at a dinner party fending off the lascivious lips of a Tory Grandee who has had too much Port, then the worry space available for the serious problem at the back of your mind may be very low, let’s say 2 – now if we pop that number into either calculation it produces a low result for the worry for the serious problem we started with. If on the other hand we are at the same dinner party, staring into our navels and the worry space available is high it will produce a bigger result indicating more worry. Of course if no worry space is available at all eg zero, then the problem is not a worry for that moment.

My argument here is that the amount you worry is not proportionate to the seriousness of the problem. In the past I have worried much more about less serious issues than those I currently face because my preponderance and the available worry space were both higher. And that’s why it is important to take lots of drugs to take the part of the Tory Grandee. Jeez what am I talking about – just ignore all this.

My health and fun with Turkish taxi drivers

My health is good and the National Amyloidosis Centre says so – hurrah!. Nonna had a funny turn before we left but is ok now too – wahoo good news all round!!!

For me things are looking very positive but I am not out of woods. – To be honest I never will be – but as long as I am not in the swamp then I will continue to enjoy the primroses and ignore the occasional discarded jonny on the path toward the gift shop and cafeteria – always the best bit. We are in the taxi with an Turkish/German/anarchist/Marxist driver (can’t tell exactly which way he’s hanging) – whatever he’s got to be a rarity, I wonder if he saw my anarchist badge. I am very impressed by his knowledge of politics and economics but boy is he boring. Oh to be with an infuriating racist, bigot whose got a sense of humour but jeez a self righteous disapproving of everything, lefty, like me – Maria and I may have to top ourselves during the next four and a half hours driving back to York.

Back at the Royal Free other than accidentally exposing my tinky to the lab assistant after putting the hospital gown on backwards and listening to a gruesome horror story I had saved on my iPad, on drowning and suffocation while in the scary scanner, nothing of significance to report. The MRI technician was having great fun pretending that because I couldn’t hear, headphones on, she could say outrageous things and I would just nod. At one stage she amused us both by saying ‘and now we are just going to pop your liver out, OK?’ – I was very amused. Nothing better than a lack of professionalism in such a serious profession. I love her. She also told me a favourite horror story of hers was about a MRI scanner that becomes possessed and incinerates its patients – must remember that next time I have one. Two great quotes from the consultant: I asked – would any lifestyle changes make a difference to my amyloidosis? She said – which lie do you want? I said, how about exercise? She said (read this with the correct heavily loaded emphasis on the last word) Exercise makes a difference – apparently.

I am going to get the dreaded pipe down the gob again – boy oh boy am I getting bored with that and all the other tests – wonder if you can die of boredom with cancer before dying of the disease. I will also have to have a stool examination, no it’s not quality control at Habitat. btw any volunteers to help? I will probably get another 2 courses of chemo to try to push my 97% remission to 100% hopefully with my favourite steroids.

Our driver down was also Turkish and drove Turkish style (not a delight) at a million miles an hour telling us how he had planned to kill his son in law but now loved him like a son, phew for him! Met the wonderful 2 boys and a girl while in Hampstead. Had a smashing Spanish dinner and their delightful company – although they did talk about writing and narrative and things when I really wanted to talk about me or my poetry. Speaking of poetry I have concluded a number of pointers for fledgling poets who aspire to be as good as me.

1. You have heard it before but it I’ll say it again – Don’t correct
2. Don’t read too much of other people’s – you will either give up because they are so good or pick up bad habits cos they are so bad.
3. Get someone to read your stuff out loud. Avani has read some of mine and I have recorded her and uploaded them onto the blog. She makes my bad stuff sound good
4. Don’t write lies about yourself – everyone will know
5. On the other hand, freely make stuff up about others – everyone will fall for it and think it’s true.
6. Quantity not quality is what counts – lots of bad stuff from which crumbs of good stuff emerges
…bit like life – nah cobblers! Life is good if you are lucky and in so many respects I am.

A massive thank you to all my readers

On behalf of Julia and Richard I would like to thank all the readers of this blog for your generosity in donating to the National Amyloidosis Centre. We are nearly at an incredible final target of £3000 having expected to struggle to reach £500 We are so touched. I am going there today for two days of tests and hope to meet up with the fundraiser and pass on the fantastic news. Thank you all again

Stolen thunder

Last week Nonna was rushed to hospital. I was almost jealous . Shame on me.

She spent nearly a week on the ward being pumped with new heart drugs but is home and hearty now. My shame relates to my pathetic reaction after we arrived with blue lights flashing at A&E at 3:00 am. Once she was pronounced Ok and was visibly improving, ie once the anxiety had abated I found myself thinking – “but this is my hospital” “this is where I am centre of attention” “she has stolen my thunder and upstaged me.” Honestly if there was a hell I deserve to go there without passing go or collecting £200. How could I be so so selfish! Is it really the case that while I am ill no one else is allowed to be even a dearly loved old lady of 84 – Come on Chris get a grip! Share the joy.