Now I have three holes and lots and lots of stones. My three holes are –
The worm hole in my room that means I don’t ever have to be a child
The hole next to the compost where I can smoke my pipe like dad and sleep with Jill
The bath that is really another compost hole but indoors and drains and drains.
You know about my stones.
This was enough things for me to start my research at the library.
The library was a lorry. At first this confused me as the normal lorries carried bread and coal not books. This one has a door in the side and steps and a rubber stamp and a librarian called Linda that my mum knows from Bexley where my Nan is in hospital for trying to cook her head in the oven. Linda doesn’t mention this but she does say that the book my mum wants is in, so my mum is pleased and doesn’t have to pay. I ask for books on worm holes and stones but Linda suggests ‘Bom the Little Drummer’ so I take that instead. It’s a good book because Boms’ drum rolls down the hill and that gives me an idea for an invention so instead of holes and stones I ask if l can have a book on inventions. Linda says she will bring one in a fortnight when I return Bom. That’s the trouble with libraries you have to give the books back. The best thing about a book is keeping it. That’s more important than reading it. I keep my books on my shelves in order of how may times they have been opened. The unopened ones are the best but I only have one – ‘The Observers book of Freshwater Fish’ – Auntie Margaret got it for me so I could look up ‘minnow’ but after she gave it me she also tried to cook her head in the oven so Dad said best to leave it shut.
When I grow up I want to be an inventor and invent something round like a stone or a hole or a wheel – something that goes somewhere.
Dad gives me his old pipe. Jill and I move to a hole we dig next to the compost.
We cover the top of the hole with an old table top and some sacks. Inside it’s dark and cosy. We make a carpet of grass cuttings on the floor and dig a second small sideways hole as a cupboard where we keep Dads pipe. “Our hole is our home now” I say. I take the pipe and place it between my teeth and blow. “See” I say. Jill laughs and presses another layer of grass clippings onto the floor. “It’s really soft” she says. “Feel.” I push my fingers into the grass and blow on the pipe. “The hole smells of Dad.” We laugh and push each other and make rude dad noises and smells. Then Jill makes cups of tea and keeps things tidy while I smoke my pipe and keep guard. We try lying down. The hole is just wide enough that we can lie head to toe our faces pressed into the wall of mud on either side – as we do so the rain falls. We pretend to sleep until the hole begins to fill with rain. We don’t dream. Then Jill has to go home to have tea and mum gives me a bath. When I get out of the bath I leave a lot of wet grass and mud behind. “Look the hole has come inside” I say to mum as it drains and drains.
So 2:33 am and not quite the walk in the park I was hoping for.
Just completed week one of the new drug regime. Certainly nothing too terrible or too gross. One thing is apparent again this time – drugs designed to do one thing or with side effects that spring off one way prescribed alongside drugs drugs designed to the opposite thing with side effect springing off the opposite way are always going to have unpredictable outcomes. One imagines seedy night clubs in exotic third world locations featuring arm wrestling bouts between rival treatments ‘wake him up’ no sedate him’ bung him up’ no loosen him.’ At some point one hopes the body just goes ‘ahh grow up you lot – I am just going to sit here nice and calm until you lot are friends again.’ They are not friends yet.
Before I go on I want to apologise, no I don’t, I want to warn you, that one totally reliable outcome of my cancer cocktail is I become aggressive, not physically, but verbally. The worst occasion was after my one night in hospital with chronic constipation, an episode I am ashamed of to this day – sorry NHS! Sorry Maria! Sorry Arthur! – when I went into a total victor meldew melt down just because they were late getting a form signed to discharge me. What was worst was it was (in my mind anyway) a highly articulate and analytical tirade calling upon my most effective language skills honed in the court rooms of academic conference meticulously dissecting all the key components leading up to the intolerable extra hours spent blocking a comfy bed in a valuable NHS resource. I probably said most of that. Alternatively it may have come across as a straight to Video court room drama staring an actor called Brett something defending a client called Carlene something facing ‘the chair’ for murdering her oil magnate husband who has actually arranged for a body double to be killed in his place in order that he can implicate his wife, divorce her without paying alimony and move to Columbia with his drug dealer chauffeur and gay lover. Either way it was crass and mean. True I was seeing everything around me with a fur coating as though all the walls were made of hirsute meringue however that was no excuse for the Jeckell and Hyde performance I provided to family and the ward. Sooooory! That day I used up all my unreasonable patient credit and I vow not to do it again.
But I will be unreasonable about everything else.
I have no great gripe with the Royal Family. I would like to see the institution dissolved and restored to it rightful ‘museum relics the nation is justifiably a little ashamed of’ status but other than that I don’t have any great issues. But to point out the obvious about Phil = lots of equally important individuals who haven’t spent their years living in palaces and crashing cars and have also done their duty (whatever that vacuous sentiment means) are dying everyday, currently a good number of them before their time. No individual matters anymore than any other. The Archbishop of Canterbury, the queen, the prime minister, Johnny Depp are-famous and privileged and arrogant and ok at times and boring and funny and hungry and sad and tolerable and intolerable and that’s it – they are not deities – nobody is, deities don’t exist – and if they did, and were any good, the last thing they would want would to be worshipped – so enough is enough no more pap and ceremoany no more suffocating coverage BBC, no more mawkish members of the general public saying things like ‘we won’t see another one like that.’ He was a posh, occasionally amusing, often racist big gob who persuaded a lot of middle class young people that you prepare for life’s ups and down by going orienteering or volunteering to sing daisy daisy in an old people’s home for two weeks before you go to Uni to learn how to be a hedge fund manager. Guillotine the lot of them – oh who said that? – get back in your box bad druggy Chris!
Yet again I contemplate giving up my Labour Party membership as the balls of the party shrink like a docked rams testicles. Ok I know this kinda hackneyed macho language is unacceptable but have you seen the time I am writing this? We need Jess Phillips as leader she doesn’t want or need balls. True she is not exactly the socialist ideal we had with JC (Corbyn not Christ) but she has what it takes and she can communicate effectively though to the northern red wall and the Notting hill virtue signallers like me. What a pity she decided she wasn’t up to it, but isn’t that the most commendable act that clearly demonstrates her leadership credentials? Labour Party membership for me had always been a uncharacteristically balanced act on my part. There is no party in the World that actually represents my political views, unless Noam Chomsky decides to become a party one day, so my civic responsibility is to support the party that gets closest. Under Corbyn I felt I belonged – he fucked up big time not dealing with the anti-semitic legacy of some of labours super-pack – but he wanted to do lots of things that will have to come to pass sooner not later if humanity is to make it past my sisters latest grandchild’s 50th. Keir’s solution to JC’S electoral train wreck is to promote patriotism. WHAT! Patriotism is what inspires the right! Leave Boris to do the Trumpian flag cuddling. KEIR we are the left, we promote Internationalism it’s kinda the opposite. What party are you leading. I find him very boring and he’s a lawyer and I don’t like lawyers as a rule. Guillotine the lot of them – oh who said that? – get back in your box bad druggy Chris!
My stones are kept in my room under the bed. It’s the room I was born in – the one with the worm hole. Nobody knows they are there except me and Jill. Jill lives next door and has a guinea pig and her dad has a gun that he uses to shoot rats that bother the guinea pig even though the guinea pig is really a fat rat. Perhaps that why the rats bother the guinea pig, to get back at her for being fat. They also have a pond so that’s where we get the stones. Someone has pretended the pond is a beach by putting stones like the ones at the seaside all around it. We take them when nobody is looking specially her dad, we don’t want to get shot like the rats. We take them up to my bedroom crawl under the bed and pretend we are in the bank, counting the stones, saving them for later, writing a list of them in order of specialness. The best ones are smooth and flat just like coins. Jill says her brother knows how to skim coins like that so that they skip across the water. I wonder if I will ever be able to do that when I grow up.
When I grow up I want to go to the seaside and skim coins and be rich. I want to marry Jill and sleep with her so we can share our dreams and talk about them the next day.
Here is my list of the top 10 stones – they are all boy stones – no copper values
Like a bath that never empties the worm hole stays open and drains its contents into the back garden of number nine. Dad is angry as it leaves a wet stain down the wall and a permanent puddle that threatens to undermine the foundations of the house. So he says! I believe this to be a moan, not a proper problem. Moans are common in comfortable families they substitute for proper problems when there aren’t enough of those to go round.
At age four dogs are my favourite thing and I love them and think about them all the time. When I grow up I want to work in a zoo for dogs.
Dogs are great – Corgis are the greatest – Corgi cars make me think of driving one day and that makes me feel big.
March our Corgi dog presents a problem not a moan. Unlike April and May (we still see them from time to time around the village – I think March may be a cousin but I am not sure) he is predisposed to activity and is in a permanent state of emergency as if he had a siren and blue lights. In an emergency he killed a Pekingese dog that belonged to Number Fifteen – broke its back. Nobody in the Rise liked the Peke except Number Fifteen of course (they must have, as they had two the same (everyone in The Rise seems to like to keep pairs of dogs – perhaps it’s about symmetry or an offer or good luck)) they made a sound like a pig not a dog so people hated them. Dogs should sound like dogs in the same way as people should talk not bark. Anyway even though March only killed one of them, Number Fifteen complained to the police and so March went on holiday to a kennel. He never came back so I guess he must have liked it. That was the last dog we ever had. I expected another one to come through the worm hole but the worm hole never does things if you expect them. I find you need a real thing to sustain an interest, just imagining doesn’t work, so without a real dog, on my fifth birthday I decided I liked stones better. After all I had lots of those – oh and cats but more about that much later.
When I grow up I want to drive a car and look after pumas.
I have been obsessed by a character called Tuffin for a good while now. He appeared publicly at the end of the Easter Broadcast but he has had quite a number of private airings in various stories and poems. As I have a tendency to wake up early with the drugs ringing in my brain and need something to do other than Pinterest and TikTok and the Guardian and Ebay I have started writing very short chapters of what may turn out to be ‘The Life of Tuffin’ (working title). I am disinclined to set myself the goal of writing a novel/saga/epistle/memoire (its such a cliche and i wont do it anyway – much too much work) instead I will drip feed each tiny chapter as a blog post as frequently as my inclination and productivity permits – they will never be more than 500 words and usually less. They will all be first drafts usually completed in less than 30 minutes (so if your feedback refers to such inconsequential details as spelling and grammar please refrain from providing it cos i don’t care). My plan is to polish and reassemble them once I have lots.
I don’t expect anyone to actually read them but the possibility that somebody might is sufficient motivation to drive me away from videos of poor doggies being rescued from the ice at the last second or delivery drivers throwing parcels over garden walls that haunt me in the early hours if I am left to my own rudderless devices. See what i did there – two different meanings of the word devices captures both my mental state and the physical act of Ipadding that gives rise to said mental state.
They will be set against the ‘eau du nil’ tint below so you can navigate around them if you are not interested or really annoyed by them. Mind you if that’s the case you must always find this blog uninteresting and annoying unless you have a voyeuristic fascination in me and my illnesses, enjoy reading stuff where i show off off about my family, love a bit of pretentious arty crap, enjoy an ill educated rant about politics and religion from an opinionated arsehole, or just relish being able to spot the incorrect use of the semicolon and over use of the —- dash.
Anyway tough! let us proceed with Tuffin Chapter 1 – see what i did there Tough -> Toughin -> Tuffin
I am on a roll today!
The two Corgi dogs are named April and May. Dad doesn’t enquire why, nor does he note the coincidence, but he dutifully takes them to the woods and attempts to persuade them to do their number twos. Despite the encouragement, the dogs indicate by acts of canine prostration, that they would prefer to stay in the warmth of the back seat of the Austin A40 parked outside Number 9 The Rise. The Austin and the Corgis belong to the midwife concurrently encouraging June (my Mother) to push me out of her womb into the front bedroom of number nine The Rise, the 6th detached house looking up the road from the station, on the left-hand side of the road.
I note the coincidence, the processional nature of the dogs names leading to my mother’s name as the first of many pleasing patterns, puzzles and serendipitous occurrences that give rise to my arrival in England on January 16th 1957 at 4:37 pm covered in my own and my mothers number twos and provide my first dataset (see below) for a lifetime obsession with recording such happy accidents.
As I arrive, and to the midwifes and my mother’s surprise, the excessive faecal lubrication causes me to slip through a space time worm hole (that has formed in the front bedroom of Number 9 The Rise, while dad is out dog walking and thus unable to prevent it – thus i find myself circumventing mother’s breast, Terry nappies, Farley’s rusks, the horror of polio vaccinations, rides into the village on the back of my mothers bicycle in a rusty baby seat that rasps my thigh red and all the ensuing and inconsequent crying, fully prepped as a four year old in short plaid trousers with matching shirt [a two piece), knee length tan socks, lace up brown shoes, a hand knit cardigan courtesy of Auntie Barbara and sporting a silk tie that will in various manifestations will remain around my neck until a trip to Italy one August many years years later persuades me, as a result of the inordinate heat, to take it off. It is July 1961 and I emerge from the worm hole with my own Corgi dog called March and I am called Tuffin.
I am posting from a new UK domain set up by Lisa’s brill brother – https://www.mediamarmot.com/ I will maintain the US one until its all settled down and tested.
A couple of people requested a bit of an explanation of the Easter Christmas thingies.
Good art requires no explanation – somewhat dodgy art does – as my efforts are currently on the dodgy side it would churlish to mount my high horse and refuse to explain what i am trying to do – so here goes.
btw the way i will post about my new treatment soon – nothing exciting to report though other than keeping track of the 10 different medications requiring different doses on different days at different times of the day, pre meals after meals without meals – Art set up an App for me – the reminder alarm sounds like an angry cat and consequently frightened the fur of Vinnie cat who was sitting on my phone at the time – but without that i would probably have overdosed and died – arghhh
The Easter thingy
The Christmas and Easter pieces are both about the absurdity of religious festivals, religious myths and religion itself (I am aware that not everyone shares this view and that’s just fine by me – there are centuries worth of creative works that provide a more positive take more persuasively than I can ever hope to counter). The 2 pieces try to make the point by making as little sense as their intended targets. The vocal characters are all played by me either live, pre-recorded, digitally processed or synthesised. By offering this range of different versions of me the authenticity of the content becomes difficult to discern. Is this authentic, serious, silly, truthful, original, derivative, meaningful? – the listener may ask of the work and thus by extension of the Easter/Christmas story they depict. The setting is always the same – a telephone box from which disembodied voices may be discerned. Evoking a stable or a tomb I suppose in this case. In the background randomly sequenced echoes of previous broadcasts may be heard as well as extracts that may not have been previously heard in other pieces and may or may not be ‘meaningful’ to me or any other listener as well as randomly generated ‘spot’ effects. In the Easter piece a tribute is played in the background to Mahler’s resurrection symphony, but the original instruments are changed to electronic instruments (reflecting similar changes to those imposed on my voice) along with time signatures, keys, tempi, sequencing and the layering of phrases. The music also acknowledges Berio’s Sinfonia which happens to also be a reworking of the same movement of Mahler’s resurrection Symphony and from whom I stole the idea. In the Christmas piece references are made to Away in a Manger which the synthesiser read as manager because of the spell check function insistence that i missed and created quite a nice random gag. Repeated characters add the illusion of purpose and structure but really there is none – Making the point again that any quest to find sense, particularly in the mythologies propagated by religions, is as foolish as dinosaurs playing the flute, campaigns to return magic rings to little girls from Cadbury’s chocolate adverts or efforts to decode my two pieces. Everything is just daft and pointless except the actual act of making the art – the point made by Andy Warhol and oft repeated by me.
“Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art
sources and inspiration; Berio’s Sinfonia, Dada collage and bricolage, some Charles Ives songs, 19th century melodrama (ie spoken text combined with music) Thomas Edison’s ‘Spirit Machine,’ Henry Hunning’s carbon granule transmitter (used in some early phones until Edison commercialised his own) (yes he really did live in Bolton Percy our nearest village), John Cage’s use of chance to create musical structures, David Bowie’s cut ups to create lyrics. – i cant face formally referencing these so just google the keywords and phrases above
immediately after my live broadcast on Easter Sunday there was a power outage at the Ogden Utah data center and all the sites hosted on the server that hosts Gravityisahat went down. Blimey I thought ‘my telephone box has broken the internet – i guess god has finally got pissed off with my childish assaults on his only child and his special days.’ Anyway I prayed to the Saint of IT support and behold my site has risen again as a recorded version of the live broadcast with the cockups at the beginning, where i dialled the wrong number twice, eviscerated. Ha God – Take that!
What news? Nothing much. Nothing particularly amusing – even the cats, usually a reliable source of anecdotes are in a sort of lockdown stupor. We will be seeing the boys and girls very soon, once we are allowed and can’t wait. They will still be confined to the annex and another empty house we have been loaned but things are much more relaxed now that us three oldies are well on the way to being fully vaccinated and everyone can take the covid tests regularly. It has been a very long long time without seeing them all – poor Arthur has had two birthdays locked down.
Maria is back at work protected by screens and the luxury of a very long room. She is at one end the with the windows open, the lasses are at the other behind perspex – Maria needs her opera glasses to see them and an ear trumpet to hear them but it’s a good arrangement. She was anxious about going back but only for a day a day or two. She finished the term by falling flat on her face, not metaphorically but literally. Like a naughty 10 year old she came home with a grazed knee, a skinned hand and a bloody nose. She’s fine but she did want to cry. I told her to go and change her smock and that if she was going to be so clumsy she wouldn’t be allowed to play in the barn with the rough boys again.
I have been obsessing with my third live broadcast from the phone box for 8:00 pm on Easter Sunday. This is my shot at a resurrection theme eg – improving on Bach, Maher, all the renaissance masters and Dave Allen. To be frank I am not convinced that my approach has worked. But in the spirit of not hiding ‘misses’ I am going ahead with the broadcast. I find delivering and thus closing something even if it’s horribly flawed more satisfying than waiting for the illusive perfection that, in my case, never comes. The first piece was too earnest and too long, the second one was too long, it follows, in the Goldilocks tradition that this one should be just right but it isn’t.
I have promised in the past, not to explain my art, so here comes an explanation and another broken promise. FORGIVE ME.
I am interested, and have been for some time, in making art that doesn’t say anything much it just messes about. Serendipity is also a crucial element. Trying to say nothing sounds like a bit of a folly given my principal medium is speech, but you get my drift. Charles Ives managed to combine quotes from cheap songs with hymns, street bands, his own pretty naff poetry, the European classical music tradition and what sounds like laying his fingers randomly on the keyboard and banging about in a sort of hyper personal pot pourri – I am after the same. It means that the work has to tread a very risky path that is dangerously close to being just bad or amateurish or a mess. Amateur is the ultimate insult to the “serious” artist. But why I ask? Grayson Perry is another of my heroes (even though I don’t much care for his pots) because he doesn’t appear to make a distinction between amateur and professional it’s all just art. Pinterest should remind us that amateur craftspeople are as able artists as professional artists they just don’t necessarily do it as “professionally.” Maybe “professional” is a word I am beginning to despise like “experts.” UH OH!! My point is that the act of doing is what matters, self evaluation or reflection is just masturbation. Once again I refer to Warhol
“Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.”
Resurrection has taken a good deal of work, not just because I wanted to try something technically that I had wanted to do for ages, but had always seemed like too much effort (consequently I wasted tons of time teaching myself skills I ended up not using that much) but also because, when it came to the really creative bit, as against the technical bit, yet again, my muse decided to pack her bags and go to her caravan in Filey for a couple of months leaving me stranded. So it is what it is – a bit bad. It owes a lot a lot a lot to Berio’s Sinfonia as well as Charles Ives and a bit to Phillip Pullman’s version of Grimm’s Fairy Tales – that also inspired George and Avani’s movie – but also most importantly to some random laying down of fingers on the computer keyboard and banging about. It’s not an audio piece in the studio sense of the word. It can’t be refined because it has to work to the acoustic properties of its environment – I cant mix it in the conventional sense – it has only two layers foreground (in the receiver ear piece) and background (everywhere else). That limitation should be an asset. I don’t think it is at the moment.
I guess I will carry on ‘telephoning’ until I have closed the loop next Halloween and then I think I will have exhausted all available bitter and ironic takes on ritual celebrations and religious holidays and will move on to something else. I am behind on a couple of other projects and I have plans for a series of short stories which I am looking forward to starting – my phone box art continues to fascinate but I feel the need to get away from my own voice and listen to some of the others in my head.
However should you wish to catch the latest it will be linked from here on the night.
I will be back on the chemo on April 6th. It is accompanied by high dose steroids so be prepared for a tsunami of 3:00 am blog posts. It’s permanent medication, or rather I take it for as long as it continues to work. I am told it is well tolerated so I am hopeful it won’t be too harsh. We’ll see.
There has been an explosion of industry and creativity in the family with Lisa qualifying as a registered masseuse TODAY! – she is going onto specialise in musicians and people with RSI – and she knows loads of latin anatomical words. She did the whole very demanding course over the year of lockdowns which we reckon is pretty blooming impressive. We are lining up for treatment as soon as she can get to lay hands upon us. BRILLIANT!
George and Avani have done this fantastic adaptation of a Grimm tale for Ek’s birthday. Having put together the odd few minutes of movie footage myself i can tell you this is truly epic and must have taken days and days. I have watched it many times – i love it – the only thing is that having set myself up as the family avant-garde, surrealist, absurdist specialist it seems the grimm/shah/newell combo has blown me out of the water. Drat!
Arthur bought a cheapo classical guitar at the start of lockdown and has progressed to Bach preludes which to be frank pisses me off. I have now been playing bass for 20 years and have progressed to shoddy versions of the Allman Bros Band played very slowly.
I have had my vaccine – all down to my beloved who managed to get through to the right person at our surgery explain to them that my cancer treatment was on hold until i got it and within hours i had it done. She may have saved my life or is that a bit melodramatic – no i don’t think so. Needless to say i was too British to hustle and was quietly waiting in the queue as though expecting a number 25 bus to Upton Park to come along eventually.
My achievements – duh – a story about a cat that gets run over by a steam roller. Good though in my view.