A Working Epitaph

The Stone is not permission
It does not ask
It does not give
It simply serves
To remind
What little time we have
To Live


I cross Waterloo Bridge twice a day. Whenever I do, I see Cleopatra’s Needle. It is older than the city it stands in by around a millennium-and-a-half and older than me by double that and 500 years. It was gazed upon by Ramases II, Cleopatra, Ceaser and Mark Antony (and those are just the big names).

The people who carved it are not remembered.

I barely know the name of the person who did my job before me.

I don’t even know the names of all my great-grandparents.

I wrote this poem and recite it to myself every time I see the needle.

To and from work.

Every day.

How many died?

While you were silent
As the last note decayed in the air
Lingering against birdsong
And you bowed your head slightly
In reverence
At the correct angle
Your hand upon your hand
Like a school child
Reciting the rote-learned verse of prayer
As you thought upon
Brave men with moustaches
Or the weather
Or dinners yet to be cooked
Your poppy straight
And just large enough

Hit it and Split

I guest presented an episode of my mom’s podcast ‘Hit it and Split’ last Sunday (23/09).

My mom ‘DJ Deb’ has been DJing for some years now, largely as a part of The Shout Collective (also featuring my dad Norman, Jamie Renton- the man behind Chilli Fried and Aly Prince, who hosts the equally excellent The Folk and Roots Show on RNIB radio). After one set I thought she should have her own podcast, so I put her in contact with my pal Conan Neutron, who set up the radio station Radio NOPE a couple of years ago.

She’s been asking me to go on for a while, but since I played a load of punk, dancehall and industrial noise it might be a while before I do another.

The show goes out every Sunday at 4pm UK time on Radio NOPE. I addition to DJ Deb, it has an exciting and varied roster of guest presenters, including Adam ‘Bottleneck’ Blake and Sam Holloway (who helped me record this episode!)

Please do enjoy my show HERE!

Full archive here!

Exec producer

Lady Leshurr – Upset
The Slits – Love Und Romance (Peel Sessions 1977)
Sacred Paws – Strike A Match
Wat Tyler – Not Superstitious
The Wharves – Renew
Nadia Rose – Station
The Bug – Poison Dart feat. Warrior Queen
Liberez – Захвална породица (Grateful Family)
Rattle – Stringer Bell
Lal & Mike Waterson – Fine Horseman
X-Ray Spex – Art-I-Ficial
Life Without Buildings – The Leanover
Menace Beach – Fortune Teller
Camera Obscura – Lloyd, I’m Ready To Be Heartbroken
The Delgados – Pull The Wires From The Wall


My Knee Hurts and I Want a Drink

Pintless and one pint less, dizzy stream of thought and footfall and I desperately, internally construct, deconstruct, reconstruct responses to the latest episode of the sporadic and weighty drama of friendship.

Being told I can’t drink for 24 hours makes me want to drink for 24 hours.

I snuck some fino in the pasta sauce but made sure I cooked it down. Laughable, castrated rebellion.

The unrelenting, unfettered and uncaring industrialisation of state and free-market capitalism extends beyond the world and into the body of the individual. Eminently adaptable, we are biomechanical automatons, set to work until we fail. Our bodies hunched, our hearts destroyed by stress and cheap time-saving food and the expectation of something better.

Giving blood allows me some autonomy over my body as a machine. For 7-8 minutes, I am a factory. I own the product, the means of production. Like a full-body version of ‘The Numbskulls’ post-October, 1917. This is only my second time, and I’m only really posting about it to make sure I keep doing it.

I didn’t take a painkiller last night and today my knee hurts.

In summary:

  • Give blood
  • Join a union
  • Be good to your friends


Lemon courgettes

This is my default thing to cook when I can’t think, like just after giving blood. It’s endlessly adaptable, and you can always mess around with whatever you have lying about. You want it meaty? Throw in some ‘nduja. Creamy? Use creme fraiche and less lemon juice. Olivey? Put some fucking olives in it, you big dummy.

You Will Need:
Courgettes (chopped)
A lemon

Olive oil (as you’ll actually taste it)
Pine nuts if you’re fancy, sunflower seeds if it is brexit

And If You So Like:
Mushrooms or Quorn Chicken Bitz
Fino or white wine

I don’t bother with exact amounts as it’s not baking. Just go by eye and do as much as you like.


Oil to pan. Zest the lemon and cook on low heat with nuts/ seeds and chopped/crushed garlic until they start to brown. Add quorn or mushrooms here as they’ll need longer to cook than courgettes. Put the heat up to medium, don’t let anything stick.

When the quorn or mushrooms are cooked a bit, starting to brown a little, then stick in your courgettes. Chop ’em like you like. Slices or small chunks usually works best. Not too big but you can be rustic.

When the courgettes start to brown a little, add the juice of that lemon in the pan and turn down after a sec. Don’t drop the seeds in, as they can get mixed in with the pine nice/ sunflower seeds and can add an unwanted sharp, woody surprise to a meal.

Stick on your pasta about now. You can always turn the courgettes off and heat them up if your timing is off.

Now stick in your fino or white wine (just a big old glug) and whack the heat up a bit to cook it off a little. If you want a really cheap, dirty high, you can stick your head over the pan and inhale the alcohol vapours. But don’t do this, it’s a terrible idea.

When the pasta is cooked, drain it and mix together straight away.

Then eat already.

Sorry, I didn’t take a picture, will do when I cook it next.


Stayhome Catdad

What I did when I didn’t go out this weekend.

It was either Alan Moore or Stewart Lee, when describing the development of storytelling from DC in the ‘40s to Marvel in the ‘60s, who said the shift from one to two-dimensional central characters chiefly involved giving them attributes such as ‘a bad leg’. Well, gammy appendages abound in the first series of The Alienist (on your netflix and probably elsewhere), which I watched this weekend  with my partner and our poorly puss Ghostface. The apparently ageless Daniel Brühl (no amount of hirsute frowning can disguise them cherubic chops) plays the titular psychologist, who assembles a crack team of intellectual outcasts -and, erm, actual history’s Theodore Roosevelt- to track down a Ripper style ‘multi-murderer’, praying on the cross-dressing ‘boy whores’ of 1890s New York.

Look at his little face!

Brühl’s Dr. Kreizler is delivered in intense and brooding fashion, as you would expect from a disabled and mistrusted criminal psychiatrist, though once the aforementioned gammy arm becomes a point of conversation, his swinging left limb brings to mind The Actor Kevin Eldon’s turn as Rod Hull. The cast perform well (I wonder if Michael Ironside bulked up for the role of also actual history’s J.P. Morgan. That motherfucker looks like he was wheeled into every scene by a runner with a sack barrow), though all are hindered by the same characterisation issues and can ultimately be reduced to the single words or phrases that define their struggle and opposition to the status quo. Lush. Jews. Driven woman. There are vague references to the real meat of unsubtle character development, which are dropped into conversation at convenient moments of high drama (see Brühl and Dakota Fanning’s game of traumatic childhood top trumps) or mentioned in passing and never elaborated on.  One character is said to have set her dad on fire. SET HER DAD ON FIRE! KILLED HIM DEAD WITH FIRE! This is never explained or returned to.

The lighting and cinematography go to great lengths to turn the gas-lamp gothic city into a character of its own. However, the issues that make up the place and time-  crushing poverty and grotesque wealth, racism, police corruption, radical politics, child prostitution are all treated like the often impressive sets. They look the part, but there is little behind them. Analysis of the differences and similarities in societies, especially one so closely linked to our own, is generally the most interesting aspect of any period drama. However, here it becomes like the city’s gammy leg (or arm, or CGI pulsating cheek). Only there to give colour and the illusion of something more.