Sunday, 31 May 2009


SUNDAY: Put on a gig at Geldeston Locks Inn.
The first real 'summer's day', and therefore a huge crowd.
Beautiful weather, beautiful people and a beautiful time had by all.

I have fun, but decide that being a compere/promoter is not for me.

MONDAY: My friend John Osborne's book Radio Head is Book of the Week on Radio4.
It is a wonderful book. I have a signed copy, inscribed with the command to 'read it in your shed'.
My shed is my sanctuary. It is my space, that allows me to smoke my pipe, drink homebrew and paint things. I take it upon myself to listen to John's book being read, in as many places as I could.
I manage shed, kitchen, living room, bed alone, bed not alone, and bath. I also discover BBC iPlayer, but fear that this discovery can only encourage further procrastination, in my already halted life-progression.

Now that I have 'retard', my main aim is to get my anthology published.

TUESDAY: Another friend, Tim Clare, is also launching his debut book this month. I have yet to read We Can't All Be Astronauts, but the excerpts I have been privy to, have only gone further in confirming what I already knew; Tim is a tortured genius.
He has asked me to read at his book-launch at Borders next week. This, I feel, is a great privilege. I have spent the past few weeks agonising over what to read & what to say. Today I realise that I have nothing.
I haven't read the book, so I cannot really make a comment.
I should really buy it but I haven't paid cover-price since the heady days of student-loans.
My poems are tired & in need of a rest.
My new show hasn't really developed further than a title & a flaky idea.

Professional jealousy is now bordering on resentment, and I set about scrubbing the limescale off the shower walls, until my fingers start bleeding, and I'm overcome with the giddiness of chemical fumes.
Guilt, at my overuse of industrial-strength cleaners, overwhelms me, and I rush outside to my organic kitchen-garden (aka Hotel Slug), where I furiously start earthing-up my potatoes.
The kitten senses danger and thuds her way into the dining-room, heavy-pawed but athletically quick.
This starts a chain reaction of degus squeaks, rabbit panic and general pandemonium, with a volume even high enough to wake the hamster.
I run inside, just in time to catch the kitten mounting a rabbit.
I lunge for the water-spray deterrent, chase the suspect up Bedfordshire's steepest 'wooden-hill' and catch sight of myself in the bedroom mirror.

Eyes streaming, heavy breathing, rapidly greying and fingernails heavy with muck.
Water-bottle brandished as a weapon, and a scowl that says "Is this it? Is this really fuckin' IT?"

I move to go back to the bathroom and start all over again.
My first step goes wrong and I fall, rather heavily, down the stairs.

I won't be going to sauna tomorrow.

WEDNESDAY: I won't be going anywhere today.

I panic slightly about what to cook for tea, then realise our freezer is full of Linda McCartney.

Inspired by seeing my name in print in the Guardian Guide (on a tour poster for Latitude, alongside Grace Jones, The Pet Shop Boys, Pretenders & Squeeze - if only I could re-visit my 80s life for just one day, and tell them what I know now!), I set about writing some poems.

By 4-30pm, I decide I can't do this anymore.

THURSDAY: My friend Dick York, whose band 'headlined' at the Locks Inn last Sunday, is in the paper tomorrow. It's a double-page spread detailing his career as a mod-god with Sta-Prest, a Met. policeman and a subsequent mid-life crisis, that has led to a reforming of the band.
The kitten came from Dick.
I love the bloke. I'm constantly in awe of his energy & enthusiasm.
He too had to change careers due to illness, but it doesn't 'define' him.
Nothing seems to phase Dick. He gets on, offers everything, asks for nothing in return, and does it all with a smile on his face.

I'm going to try and be a bit more like Dick.
I owe it to the kitten.

FRIDAY: Luke is on the telly tonight.
I'm reminded while reading the TV guide, as I have my morning poo.
He's been doing a lot of commercial-telly recently, but tonight he's on the BBC.
Channel4 news have beamed his big shiny face into our living rooms twice in the past fortnight, firstly with regard to the appointment of a new poet laureate, and on the second occasion with regard to Ruth Padel & something to do with dining-room furniture.
I like Luke on the telly. I've always felt he was destined to be on TV.
He has the cheeky charm of a gay Russell Brand, and the boyish smile associated with a CBeebies presenter, but he also oozes sagacity, knowledge, erudition and wit.
I get excited when the Beeb ask Luke for some more of his wit.

Simon Armitage, probably my favourite living poet, comes across as a bit pompous.
He refers to Afghanistan as 'an apocalyptic Narnia', and I feel this may haunt him for a while. The Irish lady scares me like Mother Superior scared my sister at Farnborough Hill Convent. The other dude seems uncomfortable in his threads 'n bling. He does Shakespearean-Rap stuff and it all seems pretty worthy, although I couldn't help thinking that he was dying to get back into his grammar-school blazer & slacks.
Presenter Martha Kearney seems most at ease when turning to Luke.
She asks a relevant question, and Luke tells it like it is.
No doggerel, no self-aggrandisement, no promotion of his next show.
The Irish lady tries to match Luke's sincerity with some heartfelt opinions of her own, but she just gets fidgety, and Simon Armitage talks over her, as if he's the most important person in the room.
In between the less than-heated discussions, images & poems supplement the theme of this Newsnight Review 'poetry special'.
Footage of a recent 'Homework' gig delivers pictures of my other friends into my Friday-night-at-home.
I'm surrounded by Ross Sutherland, Joe Dunthorne, Chris Hicks & Laura Dockerill, and I'm in my nightshirt, eating potato chips & dips.

I text Luke, who is sharing a BBC Mercedes, back to East Anglia, with Martha.
I ask him if they'll stop for a KFC at the M11 Services?

I don't wait for a reply.
I go to bed happy.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Total Breakdown

My vacuum-cleaner broke today.

For those of you who know me (and I now have 5 'followers', one of whom is me, and one of whom may know me, but without a photo or biog, is just a name) you will know that my vacuum-cleaner is my life.
It's difficult to refer anthropomorphically to a household cleaning object, but my hoover is the nearest thing I have to a wife. We spend everyday together, sometimes for long periods. I care for her over & above the level of care I administer to dishcloths, or the washing-machine. Her bags are regularly emptied with nothing but a sense of duty on my part. I have searched high & low for replacement bags that compliment her foreign nozzle, and have immortalised her in verse in my last show "Yanny Mac -Domestic Goddess". And, despite being a cheap cylinder option from Argos with a wet/dry function that has never been utilised, I love her unconditionally.
As a team we suck.
Everyday, without fail, we wade through (and dispose of) the waste-products from a duo of houserabbits (litter-trained, but clumsy), a trio of degus (possibly the dirtiest bunch of shit-flinging rodents ever to bear the names of BBC regency period drama queens), a very white kitten called Richard, and a hamster with a penchant for kicking-up sawdust (probably as way of impressing the degus, but more likely just to piss me off).
At least an hour & a half of our day is spent tackling animal mess, and that's before we engage with the everyday dust & detritus produced by a rural Victorian property with a constant throughflow of horse-lovers, builders & children.

My hoover broke down today.
And with it, I broke down too.

Now let's deal with the semantics here. A hoover is the infinitive verb of vacuum-cleaner. Like Google, Xerox, Velcro & Kleenex, Hoover should always really have a capital H. I was brought up to say "doing the vacuuming", but this was soon kicked out of me at boarding-school, along with the short, harsh A's in my baths, glass & grasses.

"What do you intend to vacuum McKenzie?
The space in your empty head!?! Ha-huh-ha ha!
Now clean my shoes"

I have since learnt that it is grammatically correct to vacuum-clean, but not to do the vacuuming.
In a world full of LOLs, LMFAOs, kids that can't spell 'definitely' and mass confusion over the words their, they're & there, I make no apology for using all forms of reference to a machine that sucks proficiently.
Until now.

We have no money. The thought of having disposable-income to buy a new hoover leaves me with a giddy-sick nosebleed.
I go through the checklist.
Everything else works in the room. The fish are bubbling, the man from Classic FM is desperately trying to be heard in between adverts for Tena Lady confidence and obese-dog insurance. The washing-machine hums an assurance that my net-curtains will be sparkling clean before the rain comes to spoil our day-glo garden party.
I open the lid.
The lid covers the mechanics that none of us understand, yet men pretend & women pay good money not to comprehend. The kitten gets inside the cylinder and reconnects with her winter coat. I think I hear her scoff at my inability to fix the useless piece of mass-produced, mass-marketed, built-in obsolescent, foreign shite, and I find myself explaining that I left school in the 80s, just before compulsory Computer Studies, and just after compulsory Latin. I can spell y'know!
And I once made my mum a jewellery-box in woodwork!

And I don't lick my own bum!
Richard! Stop it!
And get out of there!

I make a coffee, tug on a lungbusting cigarette, and decide to change the fuse in the plug.
The vacuum-cleaner starts up first time, and literally scares the shit out of the kitten!

Tomorrow we dust with feathers................

Monday, 27 April 2009

The Bottle's Gone

I found it hard to leave the house today.

Having spent most of yesterday on the 'Sunrise Coast' in Southwold, having healthy fun on the reconstructed pier, eating overpriced fish&chips and drinking Adnams beer (before 6pm!), we left the pub mid-afternoon, in order to search for early bluebells in the woods.
As we left, a group of nondescript lads started pointing & sniggering.
I always like to soothe my aching paranoia by staring straight back, usually to confirm that it's me they are addressing. Sure enough, as I passed them, their heads followed my path, and one let out rather a large guffaw.
I haven't been guffawed at since the early 90's, so I inevitably started to check my appearance for signs of mirth-provision. My fly was buttoned, my nose was clean and I had steered myself & my companions away from the very few pieces of dog-shit, littering Southwold's golden paving stones.
As far as I was concerned, I hadn't been this un-funny since Aisle16 shared a Glastonbury performance tent with The Poetry Cubicle, and I scared off (bored off?) the bulk of audience with my rant about fanzine writers & bloggers.
I put the lads' reason for hilarity down to sunshine, beer and general fuck-wittedness.

But decided to stay in for the best part of today.
I was bruised, albeit secretly.

Having succeeded in writing one poem, hoovered the house (groundfloor only), washed-up, completed two washing cycles & at least one witty reposte to Facebook statii, the late afternoon ennui that is 'you have no booze in the house so go buy some quick, before Co-Op shuts, you dickhead', enveloped me like a badly written metaphor about a duvet.
Hurriedly, I threw on my cycling clothes (I have a 1940s delivery bike a la' Granville-OpenAllHours that requires the wearing of wartime fashion tank-tops & de-mob trousers, with bicycle clips) and I bone-shook my way to this side of a Rainbow.
As I pretended to lock up my bike in the designated area, two very-descript girls began to giggle and point.

What now?!

The one who didn't look like someone I'd like to hang out with, giggled & prodded her accompli, and gave the impression of a hyena in a dentist's chair - beyond the natural urge to be an animal but full of intense pain at the sight of my visage.
The little one (who really wasn't old enough to warrant less than a clip 'round the ear) decided to put me out of misery.
"Ain't you heard of a haircut mate?"

It was my hair!
People were laughing at my hair.

For those of you reading this who don't know me, (and at present I have 4 'followers', 3 of whom 'don't know me')
I have spent somewhere in the region of 25% of my total lifetime earnings on my hair.
I am a potential shareholder in Toni & Guy. I have more 'product' in my bathroom cabinet than sauvignon. I have embraced every one of the last 30years of 'do', from a 70's Donny Osmond, thru' a skinhead, then an 80's back-combed mess, and the inevitable 'I wannabe Liam' and subsequent metrosexual.
I have maintained my hair.
My hair has been an ongoing project.
My hair has defined me.
And no-one (except maybe siblings, parents, maths teachers & priests) has ever laughed at my hair.

As I pulled away from the Rainbow, 2nd gear, frustration & 2 litres of dry cider weighing down my wicker basket, I got to thinking about why I felt so upset.
I've been retired now for just over 9 months.
In that time I've reconnected with the things that really matter to me.
I garden, I forage, I potter and I procrastinate.
And in this seemingly never ending lifetime of possibility, I think it's fair to say that I've 'let things go'.
My paunch is paunchier, my man-boobs more so.
My clothes are suspect, my fingernails rustic.
And my hair.

My hair has obviously become laughable.

I spend hours on end, bleaching teaspoons & toilets, but I no longer peroxide my hair.
At 42, the bleach-bottle's gone.
The bottle's gone.
But tomorrow, I start sharpening the scissors........

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

BlogNor09 - Border Crossing

It's 'Blogging For Norfolk' day, and I'm awake unfeasibly early. I've been up most of the night.

Yesterday I crossed the border; from sleepy, rural, coastal Suffolk market town, to the Fine City, Norfolk's county capital, the metropolis.

Living in an East Anglian border town, I find myself crossing the geographical demarcation line at least two or three times a month. I have to. If we 'Broads Folk' need supplies, then the big city is our obvious point-of-call. We grow our own produce and frequent our own pubs, but if we need luxury items such as flat-pack furniture, Starbucks coffee or drugs, we have to venture across the River Waveney, and into what my house-rabbits refer to as 'Babylon'.
Yesterday I crossed the border. It was my regular Wednesday evening sauna.

Now, to the uninitiated, sauna may sound a little poncey. A bit middle-class gym membership. A bit "Glastonbury rocks!" A bit "we're taking the kids to Lapland this Christmas". Let me assure you, it is not. My German freund has built a sauna in his backyard, just off the Dereham Rd. He assembled it from an old shed, a Finnish wood-burner and a Canadian chimney. It takes four people at a squeeze, and is the hottest and most intense experience I have ever had (and I should know, because I went to Gran Canaria once in the late 80's, and that was pretty exciting).
Mein freund is not exclusive in whom he allows sauna access to, but he insists that we abide by continental European etiquette, such as putting our naked bums on towels, closing the door quickly, ensuring the aufgus is administered by the saunameister etc. (We also rub honey & rock salt into our sweaty pores, but I'm not sure if this is etiquette, or just one of his eccentricities).
The overall therapeutic & health benefits of sauna are much documented. My arthritis, psoriasis and general mental state are religiously soothed, warmed, enhanced & detoxified. The purification through sweating, and the ice-cold shower afterward (in this case, a garden hose) leave me with a heightened sense of self, verging on euphoria.

The down side is that I cannot sleep.

I tried the usual methods of obtaining at least 38winks, by listening to the World Service and its repetitious RP bulletins, but by 5am, I was handed over to Evan Davis on R4, with the confirmation that today was 'indeed, St.George's Day' and 'quite possibly Shakespeare's birthday'.
This got me thinking about the date, and it came to my sleep-deprived attention that today is also the birthday of three Norfolk luminaries. Somewhere in the deepest recesses of my mind, I remembered that the chef/barmaid at Norwich City FC's unofficial pre- & post-match pub, The Coach & Horses, has a birthday today. It's also the birthday of the lady who owns the hairdressing salon in Norwich's new 'Greenwich Village' aka Magdalen St. And one half of UEA's Livewire D&B/Breaks/Beats DJs, 'Shadow Cabinet' from the early noughties, will also be another year older today.

At this point, the prescription sleeping tablets are beyond any use.
The dawn chorus is in full voice, the kitten wants to eat the perpetrators, the houserabbits are binkying like they're on steroids, and my head is full of useless information, desperate to be released, but with nowhere to go.

I take my mind back over the border.

And as I cruise down the A146, past the Shell garage, around Loddon, past the car dealerships & sewage works, I veer off the main carriageway, way before I hit the Norwich 'orbital', and the relentless signpostings for Great Yarmouth, Cromer & Swaffham.
And, at this point, this journey becomes a pleasure trip, not a break for the border, a skirmish, and a snatch & grab for essentials.
I'm transported through the pretty green villages of Bergh Apton and The Framinghams, onto the wealth and sumptuousness of Stoke Holy Cross, past the naturist camp and "the pub where BBC Look East all go" and into the Roman splendour of Caistor St. Edmund.

And, despite my desire to live in the rival county of Suffolk, I'm happy to live so near to such a beautiful place as Norfolk.
(And with a smile on my face, and with the alarm clock reading 8-20am, my eyelids begin to droop, and sleep now seems a distinct possibility.......)

Happy 'Blogging For Norfolk' Day!

Monday, 20 April 2009

I attended a 'stag-do' this weekend. I'm more than slightly ambivalent when it comes to 'stag-dos'.
I can't write the words 'stag-do' without wrapping them in bunny-ear hand gestures. I guess I have a problem with the modern concept, though I secretly relish the sentiment.
There is something intrinsically chauvinistic about 'stag-dos', despite the fact that 'hen-dos' appear to rival them, in levels of drunken debauchery and overall levels of crassness. To be honest, I enjoy the sexist banter & beer-swilling laddishness of a an all-bloke get together, and this is because I am well-practiced. It's what we do.
The differences between a football lads night-out, a drink & a curry after work with the boys, and a 'stag-do' are minimal, if at all, with the latter giving focus to a particular member of the group, due to the necessity of the occasion. These things I have done for many a year now.
This is what blokes do.
Ok.Things have changed a bit. The 'stag-do' is evolving.
In my teens in the mid-80s, reconstructed-man was beginning to move out of 'the local' and move into town. A meal & a club became part of the evening, and this led to the concept of 'making a day of it'. In the 90's, stag-days became the thing to do. And after go-karting & golf lost their allure, and young Brits found themselves with more NDI, organised weekends away to former Soviet republics offered new hope to lusty, booze-fuelled numpties, hell-bent on 'avin it.
But now that internet companies offer these all-inclusive packages to both fellas & hen-parties, the last bastion of healthy male-chauvinism, has been well & truly kicked in the balls, by a bunch of over-exhuberant, badly trained, inexperienced & under-dressed 'ladies', determined to redress social-inequality by taking on the lads at their own game!
This is ludicrous!
As a man, I don't try to host Ann Summers parties. As a man, I don't throw bridal or baby-showers. I don't shop for bridesmaid dresses, I don't discuss the cake, I don't watch Neighbours or go for pony-hacks 'with the girls'.
There is no glass ceiling to be smashed through on this one. Just a vomit-splattered urinal & the faint memory of singing I'm Gettin' Married In The Mornin' with your trousers 'round your ankles.
A bridegroom-to-be should not have to compete with the opposite sex, in a gender-testing alcoholic version of It's A Knockout, especially on what is supposed to be his 'last night of freedom'.
Fortunately for me, we didn't run the gauntlet of a busy bottle-strewn high street in Tallin or Torquay this weekend. We went climbing trees in Thetford Forest, and then hid ourselves away in author John Osborne's house, playing poker and offering up un-PC comments about girls that we knew.
The stag, poet Joel Stickley, got the chance to behave like a monkey, and we, his cohorts got to throw bits of metaphorical shit about, disregarding of etiquette, social sensibilty and in proper, time-honoured, blokey fashion.
Well done Luke Wright - Best Man-managed to perfection!

Thursday, 16 April 2009

The early hours

I'm trying to finish my "Kids-story-with-a-21st-Century moral" thing, and to be honest, I couldn't care less.
I'm in a lot of pain.
I've got psoriatic arthritis, and I spend a lot of my time pretending that I haven't.
Tonight it's caught up with me, and my only option is to 'focus the mind'.
But that's a load of bollocks.
The problem with chronic pain, is that it's all-consuming.
There's no escape.
I've taken the meds, but they're only effective in times of a minor-crisis.
A twinge can be nullified by a heavy dose of distalgesic, but a full-on flare-up takes no prisoners.
I've run out of weed.
I'm smoking salvia divorinum, but the freaky 'high', in conjunction with the meds, has made a busy kasbah of my already befuddled brain.
I'm desperate to communicate, but my tongue has become a keyboard without flexible fingers.
So many 'buts'; so little creativity.
Perhaps I should try Twitter.
Or sleep.
(The kids lacking morals can wait 'til tomorrow)

Stir-Freud Sugar Puffs

Can't seem to get the hang of this. It's taken me half-an-hour, two cups of coffee & a poo, to realise that in order to post another blog, I have to 'Sign-in' (it's in the top right-hand corner, if you're struggling too). As a consequence, I am now 'following' myself.
I am my only follower.
This seems a little harsh, as I have over 14 followers on Twitter (more than Jesus had in the early days), and I put much more effort into blogging, than I do tweeting.
I need to get more followers, but I have no idea how?

Clement Freud died today.
A necessary guest on Radio4 gameshows, and a member of, surely, the sexiest family in history, I cannot dig up a stronger memory of Freud, than the one of him advertising dog-food in the 1970's.
I do this with Orson Welles too.
To most people, Welles is 'Citizen Kane'; director, actor & romantic role model for the man's-man.
To me, he's the fat bloke with a beard, that advertised sherry in the 1970's.
Poet & punk icon, John Cooper Clarke once advertised Sugar-Puffs breakfast cereal in the 1970's.
I've met John, several times, and my memories of him will always be music-related, or ones of coffee-fuelled poetry-rants, flavoured with cheap hairspray & anecdote.
I never met Freud or Welles.
I don't drink sherry or eat dog-food either.

A date has been set for "BloggingForNorfolk" but I can't tell you when it is, because I don't know how to leave the blog, access my Email account, access the Email, and then go back to this blog, without losing all that I have written so far.
I will write it down on a piece of paper, and get back to you..........

RIP Clement Freud.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Blog Standard

I've finally succumbed. I've been invited to blog about my former home county, Norfolk, and the result is......

I've not changed my Facebook status for days. I've tweeted only once in a fortnight.
I'm cyber-lazing between a slow game of Scrabble and a Latitude Festival forum, that appears to be in perpetual denial of the presence of a poetry & literary arena.
In short, I don't think I'm ready for this.

I'm told that the Latitude poetry guru (Luke Wright) thought it funny to amend the original title of my new show 'Yanny Mac - Retired', to 'Retarded', in his pre-submissions to the organisers. He then forgot to amend this, before submitting his list of acts for this year's festival.
I'm still not sure whether next year's 'festies' will be wearing tour t-shirts suggesting that performance poetry's longest-serving curmudgeon is somewhat mentally deficient?
But I've embraced the new moniker as a title for my blog.
This is my first ever blog entry, and like an unprepared teenage virgin about to embark on a deflower-arranging course, I ask you to remember your own first time.......