The recent posthumous publication of the late Jacob Rees-Mogg’s tribute to the greats of the Victorian era offered a number of surprises for avid followers of the top hatted time traveller’s career. Some were surprised that the book was published at all once the specifics of Rees-Mogg’s untimely passing during an auto-erotic asphyxiation accident last month were revealed. That he had been pleasuring himself to images of the great 1845 South Grove orphanage fire saw many speculate that this book would never see the light of day.
Many had been expecting that the former Member for North East Somerset would have penned a trite and clearly politically charged paean to the Victorian period. That he would have written a heavy handed, if eloquent, mythologisation of this controversial period of British history. What a refreshing surprise then to discover that rather than a tribute to the “tremendous energy” and “moral purpose” that is attributed to the ruling class of the period what we have is a dozen stories of debased and squalid sexual extremity. A 120 Days of Sodom, perhaps that should be Eton, for the modern day.
Rees-Mogg explores with erotic fervour, and in electrifying detail, the moral turpitudes of the day. One can almost hear the joyful gasps of the Honourable Member as he luridly and lasciviously describes the disposable nature of children used as sexual toys by the wealthy. His excitement is contagious as he describes the orgiastic writhing of the limbs of Empire across the world. But his writing reaches its greatest heights when he is discussing the depredations of the poor forced into workhouses and prostitution across the land. Rees-Mogg’s prose swells to transcendental heights as he elucidates upon the role that the corpses of the plebeians must play in raising Britain to true greatness.
This book is wonder and a great gift to the world, an erotically honest tribute to the paedophilia, abuse, starvation, and murder that allowed us to build an empire upon which the sun never set. It is a fitting tribute to an exemplary parliamentarian the likes of whom we will likely never see again but whose jaunty laugh we will surely hear in the weeping of food bank queues across this fair and sceptred isle.
So, Brexit Day Mk. 1.0 is rapidly looming, to be swiftly followed by a sequel next month it seems. I’ve been taking a rather unhealthy interest in the proceedings in the House of Commons of late. Something that shouldn’t be surprising given as I’ve been living in Germany since shortly after the vote in 2016. I’ve also been relentlessly scrolling through #Brexit on Twatter. I don’t even like social media, let alone Twatter! Yet I just can’t help myself. It’s like picking a bloody scab (rather than lobbing rocks at them like you’re supposed to. He-he-he).
Obviously I really want the whole shit show to be cancelled. I live in Germany but I’ve not been here long enough to guarantee that I’ll be able to stay here with my partner. I really like that I can travel anywhere I want in the EU and move anywhere that I can find work. I also really like that anyone else can too. It makes things more interesting.
It’s staggering to look at it from the outside, whilst still having a vested interest, and to see the utter nonsense being spouted in the media and in parliament.
One thing that’s clear, especially when watching parliament, is the fear that politicians seem to have of annoying the people that voted to leave. Regardless of whether a) many of them have now died and been replaced with remain favouring young people, or b) many others appear to have changed their minds. Now, they’ve never really given much of a flying fuck about what the people of the UK want. We all know that.
Back in the days of cheap drugs and free parties the Neo-Labour government, and the rest of them in parliament, decided that they really really wanted to murder a bunch of people in Iraq. Something like 1.5-2 million people marched against that. The largest movement of people in the UK since the Peasant’s Revolt in the 14th Century. They basically see the British people in the same way that Richard the Second saw old Wat Tyler. They’re clearly more frightened of the right wing press like the Mail and the Murdoch.
They also make a big hoo-hah about “respecting the referendum”. Despite the clear fact that the Leave campaign were lying through their teeth. Shouldn’t they be up on charges for something like that? I suppose not because we’d have to arrest half of parliament as well. The lying bloomin’ liars.
Some of them have balls of steel mind you. The ability to keep a straight face whilst saying that a second referendum would be undemocratic is impressive. Balls of steel.
“Respecting the referendum”. What a joke. The question was basically “Who’s your favourite Star Wars character? Doctor Who or No?” The whole thing was a farce.
Shit. Are there any people on the island that don’t really, in their heart of hearts, not realise that this is all a result of a power struggle in the Conservative Party? A Conservative Party made up of millionaires who are so disconnected from normal people that they didn’t realise that many people would vote leave just to say “Fuck you” to politicians in general. Twats.
Now, given that I’m a lousy “Remoaner” who has a selfish interest in Article 50 being revoked, you could be forgiven for initially thinking that I’m some sort of EU fetishist. You know, like those tits with wanky placards and blue faces like some low-rent version of William Wallace you saw on the People’s Vote march last Saturday. See below.
I get most of my UK news from the news feed on my phone so I mostly end up with articles from The Grauniad or the Indescribably Boring Independent. Middle class liberal papers that speak to and for middle class liberals. Also the only major newspapers that are predominantly remain. They often run little pieces about how “Brits in the EU” are going to be affected by Brexit. Every single one of these stories is about posh people. As I said on Twatter a while ago:
Something that has been bugging me about the “UK citizens in the EU” stories is that it’s all people I have zero sympathy for. Fucking retired bankers worried about their vineyards or lawyers. Where are the stories about normal Brits in Europe? 1/2#Brexit#BritishinEurope
I’ve been in Germany for 2+ years now and I’ve yet to meet a single retired stock broker or a lawyer. Plenty of Barmen, and builders, and, you know, regular people. If someone in the UK is watching the news and there’s a story about… Ok, 2/3.
…about fucking Tarquin and Jemima from fucking Tunbridge with their cross border corporate law firm why would they care? Bollocks to the Tarquins and Jemimas of the world. Fucking normal people are the ones most likely to be shafted by Brexit whether they live in the UK or EU.
It isn’t people like this, your Tarquins and Jemimas, that will be most affected by Brexit. It’s your regular workers, both EU in the UK and UK in EU, that will be shafted. People working on ‘flexible’ contracts or working multiple jobs to make ends meet. It’s not just people with cross-border businesses that will be affected. Europe is full of borders, even if they’re only marked by a wee blue road sign, and it’s really common for people to work in an area that’s not defined by the old national border. It’s easy to live, for example, in the south of Germany and work one day in France, the next in Germany, and the day after in Switzerland. You’re screwed without freedom of movement.
So, am I ‘pro-EU’?
Not at all.
The EU is a neo-liberal club that serves the interests of the parasitic rich in siphoning wealth from the work of ordinary people like us. Fuck that shit. I’m also not one of those people who want the UK to stay inside the EU in order to reform it from within. Capitalism can’t be reformed. Please see this instructional video for more on what needs to be done to sort that out.
But! There is no way that leaving the EU helps the people who are suffering the ravages of neo-liberalism in the UK. It isn’t austerity measures brought in by the Tories that have caused this (though they have certainly made things worse) but the way that successive UK governments have screwed over working class communities all over the island. Leaving the EU will hit in the pocket those on the island with the money. Therefore that pain will rapidly will poured downhill to hit even harder working class people from Dundee to Doncaster to Dartmouth.
There’s no credible left wing in the UK (and no, the Labour Party is not left wing) that can realistically fight to protect people from the immediate hits of Brexit; and parliament represents interests that are not ours.
Staying in the EU won’t solve the problems faced by the workers being hit hardest by government policies of impoverishment and abuse. The only thing that will sort that out is people working together to fight against said policies and said government.
Leaving the EU won’t do anything to solve these problems either. All it will do is give succour and strength to people like Jacob Rees-Mogg. And do you think that Lord Snooty gives a toss about people killing themselves because of being screwed over by Universal Credit or having to carry piss bottles with them because they’re too scared to take a bathroom break in the Amazon warehouse? Does he fuck.
As I’m writing this the muppets in Westminster are about to start voting on a raft of motions that the government has already said they are probably going to ignore. Because, you know, democracy and stuff. We’ll see whether they’ve chosen the Shit Sandwich or the Giant Douche in a couple of hours. I think though that I can firmly predict that they won’t vote to revoke Article 50 and admit that they’ve just been a playing silly buggers for the last three years. It’s like they’re in too deep with the lie. You know, like when you tell your wife that you know nothing about the massive porn bill and then she calls the papers?
So, basically. The EU isn’t good for ordinary people but leaving the EU isn’t good for ordinary people and it also strips them of opportunities to live and work elsewhere.
Revoke Article 50 Kill the Rich For Fully Automated Luxury Communism
I’m just, as of Friday, back from an extended holiday in Sri Lanka. It was awesome and I’ll be writing something about it here in the near future. I’ve also decided to put my short story, Calan Mai, on here for you to enjoy. It’s set in South Wales and follows the events of a young woman’s first day out in a new town.
I don’t travel well. I’m not one of those people that can hop on a flight and snooze their way to their destination. I’ve never been able to sleep on buses, planes, trains, whatevers. So when I woke up at 7a.m. on Sunday I didn’t sleep again until around 9a.m. on Tuesday when we finally arrived in Negombo some 30 minutes in a Tuk-Tuk north of Columbo. Oh yeah, I’m in Sri Lanka now and will be here for the next month.
It’s been a year since I last posted on here so I figured I should pop on. Especially seeing as my presence on social media has pretty much completely stopped. So I won’t be Facebooking or Instawhatsiting but I will try and post stuff here whilst I’m exploring Ceylon.
After we arrived, and got a few hours much needed sleep, we spent the day hanging out at the guest house we’ll be staying in chatting with other guests. The guesthouse, Friend’s Home in Negombo, is absolutely lovely. Our hosts are wonderfully friendly and the food, oh man, the food. Absolutely perfect. If you’re ever visiting Sri Lanka I think this is the best place to start your journey. Did I mention that the food is great? Sooooo good. God, I’m hungry again just thinking about it.
So, expect more to be posted here as we wander around the island. Today we have to pop in to Colombo to sort out some driving license related paperwork but before that I’m off to get an egg-hopper for breakfast and some coffee with cardomon. Mmmmm
As I have been learning German there have been some words that have made me chuckle such as the word “Schmetterling” for butterfly. Such an ugly and harsh word for something so fragile and pretty. Hehehe. Another that has given me the giggles is “Handschuh” for glove, literally “Hand Shoe”. Ha! Oddly, most people don’t know that at one point Germans used a word very similar to the English “glove”. That word was “Glöff”, a word that is, in fact, the root of the English word.
So why is that modern Germans now use the amusing Handshuh rather than the original Glöff? To find the roots of this linguistic change we need to dig right back into the mists of time, to long before there was a country called Germany. To the 10th Century when the region was under the rule of Otto III of The Holy Roman Empire. At the time, in the region that is now known as Bavaria, there lived a petty noble of ill repute; Lord Hans Fürchterlich. He was a terrible beast of a man who was known to extract terrible punishments upon those who slighted him, or whom he deemed to have slighted him. He was roundly feared and despised by all unlucky enough to live within his domain.
As is often the case, both with powerful people and with bullies, Herr Fürchterlich was not the brightest of people or, as modern Germans would say, Nicht die hellste Kerze auf dem Kuchen (not the brightest candle on the cake). Often he would espouse opinions of intense and impossible ignorance that they the same relationship to truth and factuality as a goldfish has to a lightbulb. Such was the fear that he instilled in those around him that even if he claimed that his horses were descended from mountain goats those around him would merely nod and agree.
One day, as winter was drawing close, Herr Fürchterlich was in town to purchase new warm clothes for the winter. He was in the store of the local tailor, a man whose name is now lost to history, where he was having his huge frame fitted for a winter jacket. As the tailor had known Hans was that day coming to town the tailor had prepared some clothes for Hans already. He did not, after all, want Hans in his store a moment longer than was absolutely necessary. The longer that Herr Fürcherlich was in his store then the greater his risk of inadvertently insulting the behemothic buffoon. One item that the tailor had prepared ready for the oversized oaf was a fine pair of fur lined leather gloves.
Hans pulled the gloves over his immense shovel sized hands and was most pleased with what he saw.
“I most like these new shoes Herr Tailor.” Hans boomed.
“Shoes?” replied the tailor.
“Ja! These shoes fit perfectly!”
“Don’t you mean…” The tailor caught himself before he corrected the massive moron.
“I know what I mean.” Growled Hans.
“Of course, I was merely asking whether you meant your new, um, Hand Shoes or whether you were referring to the fine boots that you wear.”
“Hahahahaha, foolish tailor. Of course I meant my new Hand Shoes, they are most fine.”
In fact, Hans was so pleased with his new gloves that he showed them to everybody whom he met in the town that day. Asking for their opinion on his new “Hand Shoes”. So afraid was everyone in the town of offending the hulking half-wit that they too began to refer to their Glöffen as “Hand Shoes” for fear of angering Hans. And so, the Handschuh was born and the Glöff faded into the mists of history.
I’ve been in Germany for a little over a year and there’s one, completely random, thing that I’ve noticed as I’ve been travelling around the country. That is, they don’t seem to use road cones here. It doesn’t matter whether you’re driving down the autobahn or a city street, if you see road works they have these “lollypop stick” shaped objects marking the road hazards.
It was shortly after this I also noticed that when one buys ice cream here it often comes in a bowl, if you’re eating in, or a wee paper cup. This, understandably, got me wondering whether the two things were connected. So I started doing a little bit of research and discovered that the two things were very much linked. They were linked by the humour of working class Germans and the pride of an aristocrat.
Now, to trace the German aversion to the use of conical objects we have to travel way back in time to the turn of the 20th Century. It was at this time that Italian labourers were moving northwards into Germany and the Netherlands, attracted by the large scale industrial projects offering abundant work opportunities. As the labours moved then so did the Italian ice cream makers who had, earlier in the 19th Century, brought their skills to the Hapsburg Empire, and Vienna in particular.
Now, as everyone outside of Germany knows, the natural receptacle for a portion of ice cream is a cone made of wafer. So it was that in the early years of the 20th Century German workers were first exposed to the wonders of ice cream and the marvellous delivery mechanism that is the cone.
At the time of ice cream’s debut the German Empire was ruled by Kaiser Wilhelm II. Wilhelm was neither more popular with the German people nor more unpopular than other German rulers. However it is well known that powerful figures are often the targets for humour. Lampooning them is a form of social levelling and carries on to this day with celebrities and rulers being satirised and ridiculed.
As the popularity of ice cream served in a cone increased it became a common, and hilarious, act for a person to, upon finishing their chilled delicacy, place the now empty cone upon their head and do a little dance singing.
Shau mich an,
Ich bin der Kaiser!
Look at me,
I am the Kaiser
Which is, clearly, a hilarious reference to the habit of the Kaiser, and other German nobility, of wearing utterly hilarious hats with wee cones on top to display their masculinity.
We can clearly see the similarity in the above photograph.
Eventually word of this mocking behaviour reached the Kaiser and, as it most understandable, he was outraged. In his rage he summarily passed an emergency law not only outlawing the imitation of the Kaiserly hat upon pain of bureaucracy, but also completely outlawing the cone as a shape in its entirety. This led to immense amounts of restructuring, particularly of church steeples whose spires were seen as being a little too ‘coney’. See the image below for the result of this remodelling.
So, there you have it. The Curious Case of the Kaiser and the Cones. An interesting piece of little known German history for you. Tune in next week to find out about Horrible Hans and the History of the Handschuh.
As my chapbook We are the Makers of Maps has been out for a while now I’ve decided to release the central story, ‘The Downfall of the Good Worker Laura McTavish’ as an ebook in its own right. The rest of the pieces in Makers don’t lend themselves to the ebook platform due to issues with the formatting of the pieces. Hopefully though people will like this story and decide to investigate both Makers and Hinterland.
The story is 99p/c and can be found on here for the UK and here for the USA. It’s also available on all the other Amazon international websites.
In other writerly news: I’m working on a couple of longer pieces still. One tentatively titled The Anarchist’s Guide to the Global Conspiracy Volume I: No Gods, No Masters and another, as yet, untitled piece set in Germany. I’ve also got a heap of shorter pieces I’m working on. As ever. So, watch this space.
Having been in Germany for a little over a year now it’s been, surprisingly, a little over a year since I’ve watched the UK news. I get some news from the UK via my news feed but I haven’t watched the BBC news since some time in the summer of 2016. This hasn’t really bothered me as, tbh, I don’t really care any more what’s happening there.
A few weeks ago I signed up for a VPN (Private Internet Access – cheap as chips and pretty reliable) so as to be able to do the whole web surfing thing anonymously after getting a bit freaked out by quite how much data I have unwittingly given away about myself. I recently set up another Facebook account using an email address which has no connection to any of my previous digital activities yet some of the friend suggestions were downright spooky.
So, I got up at an obnoxiously early time this morning to get ready for work (9a.m. start-2a.m. finish, yay!) and decided I would use the VPN to watch BBC News on the iPlayer. Now the BBC has always been a right wing shite station. Something that makes right wingers bleating about it being ‘Marxist’ absolutely hilarious. But I was taken slightly aback about an article on people fleeing Albania and trying to reach the UK via the Basque port of Bilbao. It was the way that the newscasters referred to the upcoming story that got me. “Coming up we’ll have more on that new potential migrant route into the UK”.
…”potential migrant route into”… The way that sounds makes it seem as though Britain is under siege by hordes of ‘migrants’ trying desperately to breach her defenses. As though ‘migrant routes’ are cropping up as quickly as her brave border forces can put them down. There’s an insinuation in the wording that Britain is closed. That there are no routes in other than through nefarious mean.
Damn, I fucking hate that place. Provincial and deluded about its place in the world. Urgh. The UK should be glad that anyone wants to come to the island at the moment. Then again, I suppose some people may find Morris Dancing and goose juggling to be entertaining.
So, a while ago I fancied reading The Great God Pan by Arthur Machen but didn’t want to buy a whole collection. So I found a cheapo version on Amazon. I think I paid about €7 or so for it. When it arrived I was rather disappointed at the quality. I mean, I know it was cheap but still, what with the ease of Print on Demand publishing there’s no excuse for something looking so naff as this did. A really cheap looking glossy cover, an absolutely tiny font, horribly smooth paper & so on.
This got me to thinking. I rather enjoy messing around with desktop publishing tools, after all I do self publish my own books, so why don’t I put together some classic horror stories in cheap yet nicely produced editions. So I did. I just received the first bunch of proofs in the post today. There are a few issues with the covers & one or two tweaks with the layout that I wish to make, but aside from that I think they look pretty dandy. Feast thine eyes. 🙂
They all have a nice matte cover, soft paper, & a decent size font. All in all I think they would look great on people’s book shelves & make great gifts for people who you are trying to turn onto a particular author. I haven’t finalized the pricing as yet but I’m going to mark them up as £/$/€1 on the cost price. So they should be cheap as chips.
So far I have plans to publish A series of Lovecraft books, obviously, as well as everything by Arthur Machen (when it enters the public domain on 01/01/18), & a number of other 19th Century & early 20th Century authors. You can see Robert W Chamber King in Yellow & Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu in the pic above.
I grew up in South Wales on a blue hill; my bedroom looked north towards the mountain of stone and Mynydd Twmbarlwm -the twmp. When I was a child the twmp of Twmbralwm occupied a special place in my young psyche. Looming above the valley below drawing the horizon into the forground -dark and haunted as the sun sank, green and verdant when it beat down from the clear summer sky.
As I grew I asked about the strange shape of the far/near horizon. The general theory amongst the kids my age was that it was a Norman fort or a prehistoric burial mound, some also said that it was where the Romans kept an eye on the subjugated but ever rebellious Silures -the tribe who gave their name to the nearby Roman fort of Isca Silures (which later became the birthplace of Arthur Machen, Caerleon). It turned out that all of these theories were right and that the site had been in use from the Iron Age through to the Norman invasion. Until relatively recently it was still a site of a pilgrimage of sorts for local people on Good Friday.
Whilst I found the history of the site interesting my young mind was turned more and more by the folklore surrounding the mountain. Folklore that was, in its entirety, dark and grim and therefore of great fascination for a prepubescent boy such as I was. When I was 10 my mother, who worked in the giftshop of the local museum, brought me home a pair of books by local author Alan Roderick: Ghosts of Gwent and Folklore of Gwent. I was thrilled by these books and read them until the binding crumbled and they were but a collection loose leaves. The volume on folklore had plenty to say about Twmbarlwm.
According to Roderick in the early 1800s (the exact date escapes me though I think it was the 1830s) a local antiquarian led a team of navies up the mountain to excavate the mysterious mound. It was a clear summer’s day as they climbed from the village of Risca yet as they approached the summit the sky rapidly darkened as storm clouds rolled from all directions. As the team neared the summit lighting began to strike the ground all around the twmp causing the superstitious navvies to flee and the excavation to be abandoned. To the best of my knowledge there still hasn’t been an archaeological investigation into the mound itself.
Some years after the aborted excavation it seems that people noticed that the number of honey bees in Britain had dropped drastically. Their whereabouts were soon discovered when thousands upon thousands of bee corpses were discovered to be covering the twmp and the top of the mountain. As if all the bees in Britain had migrated there and fought to the death.
Then there were also the tales of missing children on the mountain. In stories dating back to, at least, the 18th Century children playing on the slopes of the mountain hear the sound of music, and no I don’t mean Julie Andrews, drifting on the breeze. One of the children inevitably goes to find the source of the music and is never seen again.
Like I said, dark stuff.
As I grew into a teenager the place continued to dominate my mental landscape and, as a young teen, friends and I would cycle up the mountain and go camping on its slopes. Then I grew older and discovered the various alternative subcultures that thrived in the local area I began experimenting with all the usual things that kids experimented with at that age -drink, drugs, and as much sex as possible.
Being as this was South Wales one of the main recreational drugs that we experimented with were the local mushrooms -Psilocybe semilanceata or Liberty Caps. ‘Camping trips’ soon became a regular feature of autumn and early winter for me and my friends. We would spend days wandering the fields picking mushrooms in order to make insanely strong ‘brews’ from hundreds, sometimes thousands, of the strange little mushrooms. We would then go camping in the coniferous woodlands below the twmp and spend an evening expanding our consciousness. In fact I had my most powerful and vivid hallucinogenic experience on that mountain, at a friend’s bachelor party, which had me seeing clockwork maggots crawling red hot from the embers of the fire, stars swirling in the night sky above our clearing and figures on horseback ducking impossibly through the trees around us.
These experiences were all fun and games as I completely understood that the things I was seeing and hearing around me were the product of imagination and Wales’ most famous botanical product. However one evening we did have a genuinely strange experience. An experience that has many explanations, none of which are satisfactory.
It was maybe 17 years ago that this occurred and it was right at the end of mushroom season so it would have been early November. We had the last of our super brews bottled and were just waiting for an excuse to indulge. Just such an excuse cropped up, though I forget what it was, and so we decided to drive up the mountain one Friday night. Five of us drove up the mountain to start setting up the camp at around 9 o’clock in the evening. Four of us got a fire going, gathered enough firewood so that we wouldn’t need to gather any whilst we were altered, and the fifth returned to town to pick up the last of our party who had been working in a local pub.
Well, it turned out that our bartender friend had gotten home from work and fallen asleep on the sofa. Our driver having something of a crush on her decided to wait, rather creepily now I think about it, outside her house until he could wake her up.
Whilst we were waiting we opened a beer and those that smoked rolled a couple of spliffs to pass the time. After a while of sitting around chatting we inevitably experienced periods of quiet where our gazes were drawn hypnotically to the fire. It was during one of these lulls in conversation that we heard twigs snapping in the forest around us. Now bear in mind that it was approaching midnight in November and we were a good half an hours walk away from the nearest houses. So the sound of multiple people walking in circles around our camp did unnerve us slightly.
We shone the one torch we had into the narrow gaps between the oh so straight trees around us but we couldn’t see anyone, even if we shone the torch where just a moment before we had heard a twig snap. Over and over this happened and then, as we were starting to get seriously freaked out and called into the night “Hello, hello, who the fuck’s there?” We heard it. A child giggling -first to one side of us, then the other. A high pitched giggle that would sound right and natural on a primary school playground but at midnight in November far from the nearest houses sounded decidedly unnatural.
Those giggles were the final straw and we poured water over our fire and struck out for the road. As we walked in single file following Ryan, the only one of us who had thought to bring a torch, the sounds of people running around us continued, as did the giggling. It would get nearer then farther making us jump and urging us on until we were as close to running as we dared in the dark.
It was such a relief when we finally cleared the trees and bundled out into an open field bathed silver by the moon. We walked rapidly away from the woods glancing back over our shoulders at the giggling woods as little voices rang out “Goodbye! Goodbye!”
That was the last time we went camping on Twmbarlwm.