26 October 2009

Flagellatory Monks

When not drinking questionable White Russians or dreaming vivid visions of animal warfare, in which I lead parrots and foxes into battle following rallying speeches, you can hedge your bets on finding me weeping over Keats in the library.
UCL Main Library, my second home, is lacking in sentiment these days. So, caused by lack of sleep and Keats' beautiful ill face, I am bringing poetry-provoked tears into the shelved enclaves. They are needed, I feel, as the artistic and literary sensibilities are being slowly quashed by rules and regulations.
Leaflets litter the tables notifying students that they can now be fined for various offences. They (the MAN) can wrangle £20 out of you for 'misuse of library card'. Misuse? Like using it as a fork or something? And £20 for 'exiting via a Fire exit'. Seriously? They want us to burn? Admittedly this was followed by 'except when the fire alarm is activated' in parenthesis... The money, according to the Old Testament Library Commandments, all goes to the UCL Student Hardship Fund. Well, more students will be faced with poverty and hardship if they are continuously fined extortionate amounts, so this seems rather counter-productive. And, one cannot help but suspect, that this implausible fund is actually the pseudonym of the Librarians' Wine Stash. Though a wee tipple could loosen up Hot Librarian, and we could continue our existential chitchat that was started when renewing Blake...
Next to the rule about not having any food or drink in the library, someone had scribbled 'Slightly Draconian?' How very UCL. Classical references to Draco used as witty graffiti backchat. This is almost on a par with colouring bits of the word 'Book' on the various library fliers so that it reads as 'Poo'. Always raises a smile. This maturity is continued in the various scrawls on the desks. Though I did read one the other day that said 'I am honoured to get a chance to start on a clean slate'. It is unclear as to whether they were referring to the wooden desk, or their LIFE. The library, after all, is my place of choice for emotional breakdown, philosophical exploration, Eureka moments and weeping rivers of tears over Keats.
No doubt I'd get fined for dampening the paperbacks.

21 October 2009

Numerical Notion

A heartening thought for seldom-read scribblers (ahem...), philosophers down on their luck, poets in anguish and writers in woe:

Scythrop did not despair. 'Seven copies', he thought, 'have been sold. Seven is a mystical number, and the omen is good. Let me find the seven purchasers of my seven copies, and they shall be the seven golden candlesticks with which I will illuminate the world'.

The crucial thing, of course, is to reach the magical, though meagre, circulation of seven. And not to overshoot this. An eighth purchaser of any treatise or manifesto can cast the whole world into darkness and DOOM.

15 October 2009

Dylan wants his swagger back

Ah, people of London! Were you aware that ‘a new counter culture is rapidly developing’? A counter culture that have found their Messiah in the form of Kieran Leonard – ‘a poet’ as many are describing him.

He performs songs ‘focusing, dissecting and meditating on the most immediate and pressing of current issues; from the economic downturn, to media manipulation, consumerism and a loss of spirituality in modern Britain.’ The counter culture of ‘new devotees, turning up in their droves’ to hear their Voice of Reason, their beacon of hope in these dark, dark times, ‘the instigator, origin and vanguard of the movement’ are inspired by the ‘uniquely visionary songs the likes of which haven’t been seen since the days of the sixties beat and protest movement.’ With true grace and humility, ‘knowing that he speaks for so many of his “lost generation”, he delivers his lyrics with blood, grit and a wild look in his eye, comfortable in the assurance that if he is speaking it as he finds, his message is unassailable.’ Straggle-haired, heavy-booted and swathed in a Withnailesque long coat, he puts on a revolutionary show of ‘love, black dogs, visions and traditional troubadour balladry’ with the ‘swagger of an early Dylan’. In the shadowy corner beside the stage, his gimp-on-a-lead accompanies him on the harmonica, lovingly and sickeningly gazing into his master and leader’s spotlit face. Spotlit, that is, by a desk lamp placed on the floor by his spellbinding feet. When not breathing heavily into his harmonica, the gimp mouths along to the thought-provoking, cerebral lyrics of ‘Harold Pinter is Dead’, ‘Oedipus Rex’ and ‘Freudian Marksmen’.

A guy named Jerome, a drunkard channelling a distorted Vince Noir and bellowing out a ramshackle cover of ‘I Smell a Rat’, supports the great Messiah. In a bit of pre-performance banter he informs the crowd that he hasn’t slept for three days, he’s that rock’n’roll. He is later called on stage for a collaborative impromptu crucifixion of some Bob Dylan blues. I stumble out of the basement into the dazzling light. And straight into Carl Barat. He too has come to pay homage to the Messiah.

7 October 2009


'They were returning from the large heart of Bloomsbury, where the children were frequently taken to learn deportment from the Tanagras in the British Museum. After posing meaningfully as a Corinthian, or practising sinking on a camp-stool like an Athenian, they came home, as a rule, rampageous.'

What on earth is Firbank doing describing a typical afternoon of ours in a novel written roughly eighty years ago? The man's a mystic, evidently. So nice of him to include us in his eccentric work of whimsy. He's an acquired taste, just as Distant Vines or liquorice is. The dandy does hit the nail on the head however; I am frequently rampageous. Rampageous is my middle name. 'Watch out', they say, 'Kirk's on the rampage again. Gird your loins and flee this china shop! I hear her heavy boots on the library stairs - a rampage is what she's asking for!' I am, as a rule, rampageous. And me and my Roman nose make a damned fine Athenian.