Friday, 10 November 2017

Alternative UK Citizens Test -

People from abroad who want to seek British Citizenship have to sit a test of 24 questions, drawn from a booklet chockfull of factual errors. The chapters of the booklet cover the following:

"Values and Principles of the UK" -  a task any indigenous Briton would find hard to define and politicians certainly struggle with, particularly when trying to define and legislate against extremism opposed to British values.

"A Long And Illustrious History", which a) is a rather Whiggish view of British history and b) presumably stops at around 1948 or the late 1960s at best, cos there ain't been all that much illustrious since.

"A Modern Thriving Society", our infrastructure is largely still Victorian rather than modern and as for thriving...? I bet you spat your tea when you read that right, given austerity and the complete amputation of our social services.

But fair's fair and we British love a sense of fair play (allegedly). If people from outside the UK have to demonstrate their love and knowledge of our nation as proof of Britishness, then so should our indigenous natives. Especially since they have loudly asserted it in the recent Brexit referendum, proclaiming we want our sovereignty back.

So here is a test for autochthonous (look it up) citizens to take, in order to prove they merit living in our beloved country. Answers at the end.


Q1 Where was the Patron Saint of England born?

Q2 Which of the Home Countries' flags is not contained in the Union Jack?

Q3 To the nearest full year, how many of his ten year reign did King Richard The Lionheart spend in England?

Q4 Which writer is known as "The Father Of English History"?

Q5 Who were Gog and Magog and which legendary founder of England battled them?

Q6 After which post-Roman occupation tribe is England named and which part of England still bears their original name?

Q7 Name 3 Imperial Weights and Measure units which are double entendres

Q8  When did slavery cease in Britain?

Q9 What percentage of the globe's landmass was covered in the pink of the British Empire at its height?

Q10 What language does the word Blighty derive from?

Q11 King Henry VIII's notion of empire was a Britain independent of continental Europe and the Papacy in particular. His daughter Queen Elizabeth I was persuaded to expand the concept into what we understand today by the term 'empire'. Which mathematician, magician, wife-swapper and alchemist persuaded her to this expanded concept of empire?

Q12 Who was the first Englishman to translate and publish the Bible from Latin into English?

Q13 Which of these authors didn't write a version of the Arthurian Grail legend?
a) Thomas Malory
b) Alfred Lord Tennyson
c) Edmund Spenser
d) John Milton

Q14 Before the introduction of all-seater stadia, several grounds had a 'Kop' open-aired terrace. After which colonial battle in which colonial war were such ends named after?

Q15 The great engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel's Christian names were patronymic (Isambard) and matronymic (Kingdom).  What country did his father come from?

Q16 Who was Joseph Chamberlain and what was his proposed "Triple Alliance" based on?

Q17 Which languages have contributed the most words to modern English vocabulary - put the top 5 in order of contribution:

Celtic
Norse/ Danelaw Danish
Anglo-Saxon
Latin
Norman/ French
Dutch
Hindi/Persian
Arabic
Hebrew/Yiddish
Jamaican Patois
Ancient Greek

Q18 Of the 67 "Distinguished Flying" Medals awarded, how many were won by Poles and other non-British and Commonwealth airmen? 

Q19 Which Briton was Washington Irvine describing here?
"(A) plain, downright, matter-of-fact fellow, with much less of poetry about him than rich prose. There is little of romance in his nature, but a vast deal of a strong natural feeling. He excels in humour more than in wit; is jolly rather than gay; melancholy rather than morose; can easily be moved to a sudden tear or surprised into a broad laugh; but he loathes sentiment and has no turn for light pleasantry. He is a boon companion, if you allow him to have his humour and to talk about himself".

Q20 The image of Britannia (shown on an old penny below) as the female personification of Britain, comes from a goddess from which culture? (Clue, the Union Jack on the shield is a much latter addition).

Answers:

A1 The man who would become St George was a Roman soldier born in a Roman governed province of Turkey. He had absolutely no interaction with the Britain of the time, but we patronised him for our saint because of that whole slaying a dragon mythology. The Cross of Saint George was established in the 15th Century, somewhat retrospectively from his lifetime.

A2 The Welsh. Wales has been united with England the longest of all the four home countries, which meant when the Union flag was formed in 1606, it wasn't a separate kingdom but a mere principality, hence its exclusion.

A3 A big fat zero. At best it's estimated he spent 6 months in England, too busy fighting the Crusades, escaping from captivity and shoring up his French royal responsibilities.

A4 The Venerable Bede. A partial history to be sure, but then what history isn't?

A5 Gog and Magog were giants with associations to the Old Testament and were slain by Brutus; no, me neither... Effigies of Gog and Magog are paraded annually in the Lord Mayor of London's parade.

A6 The Angles and we still call it East Anglia even today. They were a Germanic tribe from
Denmark / Northern Germany (The Angles that is, not East Anglians).

A7 Take your pick: rod; perch: pole: peck

A8 As reported last week, slavery still goes on in Britain to this day. Legislatively, it was supposedly abolished in 1833.

A9 24% of the world's inhabited landmass, with 23% of the world's population of the time were under British rule.

A10 Hindi, from the word 'bilayati' meaning 'the country', as in the home country.

A11 John Dee was an official advisor to Queen Elizabeth. Alchemist, occult philosopher et al, you can read about him here.

A12 William Tyndale. The first copies were ceremoniously burned in St Paul's Cathedral as heretical texts. Tyndale was forced to flee to the continent and never set foot in Britain again. He was eventually captured and executed by the Pope's forces. On the plus side, he was front and central in John Foxe's "Book Of Martyrs" an equally crucial propagandist piece of work establishing English as the language of formal record instead of Latin, paving the way for its standardisation of form.

A13 d) John Milton, he went route one on the redeemer/saviour/hero front, in portraying Jesus rather than Arthur or Gawain or Lancelot.

A14 The 1900 Battle of Spion Kop from the Boer War. So named because of the steep slope upwards resembled the hill at the centre of the battle.

A15 Marc Isambard Brunel was French. He preferred to be called by his middle name. A fine engineer in his own right. Isambard derives from Norman French for "Iron Bright", so a bit of nominative determinism for an engineer working in iron and steel.

A16 Joseph Chamberlain was an MP and Cabinet Minister who crossed the floor of Parliament (changed party allegiances, as did Oswald Mosley). He was the father of Neville.
The Triple Alliance was a proposed alliance between the UK, America and Germany based on race - saying

a new Triple Alliance between the Teutonic race and the two great trans-Atlantic branches of the Anglo-Saxon race which would become a potent influence on the future of the world."

A17 Latin & Norman French both come in at about 29%, followed by Anglo-Saxon at 26%, Greek at 6% and then you can't split Dutch, Norse/Danelaw Danish, though the latter are mainly made up of place names in Britain.

A18 There were 8 of the 67 "Distinguished Flying Medals" awarded to non British and Commonwealth airmen: 5 Poles, a Norwegian, an Icelander and a Czech, all of whom took on the Luftwaffe. As Churchill said, "Never was so much owed to by many to so few".

A19 John Bull. He was replaced as an "Everyman" figure by Tommy Atkins from the trenches of World War One. In the social media age, hard to maintain the concept of an everyman speaking and representing us all.

A20 Britannia was what the Romans called the four parts of their colony below Hadrian's Wall and Britannia became embodied as a Roman goddess. The Corinthian helmet she sports is the clue.

Ratings:
1-5 correct answer - You know more about your country than the average UKIP member
6-10 correct answer - Call yourself a patriot?
11-15 correct answers - Call yourself a nationalist?
16-20 correct answers - Call yourself a racist?



Bleed For Me - Flash Fiction


Cascading blood occludes his wound from my gaze
Scrabbling with my hands to excavate the crimson glaze
Two ring fingers stumble into the crevice of the gash
Now it’s my very own flesh veiling the slash
I bring the bloodstained tips up to my lips
Flick out my tongue like a skittish thrips
Wincing at the cupric sting salted mix 
Elliptical drips floor splash sero-eclipsed
The weep has ceased
His soul finally released
I rake his trunk up to my breast
Clench him fiercely against my chest
The glutting blood abutting my chemise
Blotting an etched scarlet frieze by degrees
Singularly my overhanging cornice so engraved
My navel neath twin promontories unscathed
I demand to match the exact contours of your wound
Attune you to see why my blade had you harpooned
How very dare you withhold your pain self-seeking
Matching weddings rings demand we share everything

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Last Night A DJ Saved My (And Your) Life - Flash Fiction




Satan’s royalties had dried up. Despite Milton giving him a fair shake of the whip and though a bit anthropomorphic, William Blake had etched him a reasonably fair hand. Baudelaire’s litanies had promised much but turned out a complete bust and don’t even get him started on Screwtape. But since then, nothing. While his other nourishment stream of human souls had also become completely debased. What need of an unredeemer when the race had already become utterly irredeemable? Even if it all came straight out of Satan’s own playbook. So much had come to pass from his manifesto, unfortunately just not in his infernal name. He should have created lawyers earlier on in the piece, to sort out copyright.

Trusty Mammon had secured for him a power meeting with an agency to relaunch his moribund career. A reality TV show lay potentially in the wings. “Pro-bono?” Inquired Satan, being down on his uppers. (The fires of Hell were on a timeshare basis to slash running costs). “Nobody is pro-Bono are they? Even God has distanced himself”. “No, I mean gratis, as a Charity account”’ “Charity?” “Well, more a mates’ rates sort of thing. After all did I not create PR and marketing direct from my sulphurous realm?” 

Satan is sitting on a beanbag in Reception, leafing through piles of house clearance auction catalogues. Dreaming of what sort of monarch’s throne he would take possession of.  Something a la mode for the new kingdom of darkness. One that could comfortably cradle his spreading posterior and avoid agitating his accursed haemorrhoids. A dentist’s chair, baby’s bucket carseat, bus station tip-up. Tanning bed recliner, milkmaid’s stool and tuffet, a commode. The Bishop’s cathedra… once profaned with some purgatorial pimping of course. He inquired of the receptionist if he could take the brochure with him for reference. Mammon whispered that it was all online now for his convenience, though Satan murmured that he didn’t get on with the internet what with his bedimmed eyes. Which was why he didn’t have an I-Phone, which Mammon felt a pity, since it could so very easily co-ordinate his revolution to retake Earth at a stroke. 

At last the pair were ushered into the meeting room. The account manager was sat atop a tennis umpire’s chair. “Please, sit down”. “I can do no other” Satan responded, on account of his inflamed lumbago and fiendish sciatica which had condemned him to a sedentary life in the main. Which was probably why you could add piles to his heaps of pathologies. He turned  round to catch sight of a sex harness swing that was the only seating on offer. Mammon dived into the minimal clearance beneath its leather. As Satan scrambled on to the contraption and rocked unsteadily back and forth, Mammon fiddled with the straps and buckles. At least with this particular seat design there was no material chafing his sore plums. What the hell was Mammon doing under the leather beneath him?

“So Mr Lucifer-“ (a nom de guerre), “I’ve been taking a squint at your social media presence. Few followers, even less ‘Likes’, what on earth have you been doing to establish your brand? Even God has a spoof Twitter account”. “I don’t want ‘likes’, I want ‘dislikes’”. “No Master, for your heinous deeds you actually want ‘likes’”. “Gentlemen, perhaps you can save such quodlibets for later, we are on the clock here. Now tell me, what talents can you bring to the table?” “Talents? I was under the impression this was all on someone else’s dime”. “Not those sort of Talents Master, we’re all in your fiendish Eurozone now. He means abilities”. 

“Oh, well I’m gifted down below, tupping, fornicating and all manner of carnal reprehensibilities”. “Well yes, that’s a given for any Reality TV show, the sexual shenanigan subplots for the Tabloids. What else, for example, can you hold a tune… you know sing?” “Only angels sing!” “Weren’t you an angel once? I’m thinking The Voice”. “Alas no, since the accident, he’s gone from contralto to basso profundo. They did call him Snakehips Satan back in the day”. “Which day was that, before The Fall I take it…” “He can still throw some shapes”. “What are you his agent, Mr 15%?” “I handle his business affairs yes, but only to reinvest so as to advance the greater glory of Hell”. “Okay, I’m prepared to get you a shot at Strictly Come Dancing, if you show me your moves on the dance floor. I’ve got comps for Stringfellows so we can-“ “How is Peter the randy old devil?”


Satan dug the optics. The strobes reminded him of the shadows flitting between the licking flames of Gehenna. But the music made his ears bleed, he was supposed to have all the best tunes, no wonder his fortunes were so low if this was what was being churned out in his name. “Let’s get this Ragnarok and Roll started” as Satan commandeered the PA and from the deadened air conjured up the sound of fifes, tabors and Jericho Trumpets. They pounded out their martial sounds, yet not in military rhythms. This sonic assault was not about unison for keeping a marching beat, rather it targeted atomisation. The punishing pulsation located itself inside each dancer’s head, obliterating any sense of  their own heartbeats, their breath or their thought processes. Cutting them off from any other sensation of the world. Mutinous skeletons in thrall to an inhuman reverberation. Many began to convulse uncontrollably, grand mals brought about by the Grandest Malevolence of them all. Satan stomped over to the DJ’s booth, snatched up the mic and bellowed exultantly “How many angels can dance on the head of a pin now pleasure headed sinners?” The DJ, protected by his Beats™ headphones was unaffected by the cacophony and began to sample and splice el Diablo’s rhythms into a catchy breakbeat. He wrangled Satan’s fractured discordance into a danceable tune, so that all the floored casualties were able to slowly raise themselves, before throwing their arms in the air to the tempo. Satan hobbled away, taloned hands over his ears. The PR agent hurriedly bit into his arm so as to draw blood, before chasing after Satan waving the Reality TV production company’s contract in his direction. 

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

My Sax(ophone) Is On Fire - Fire Songs

So to mark my ambitious project to take on TS Eliot's "The Wasteland" for the 21st century, starting with "The Fire Sermon", here are songs about fire and flames. Enjoy.

1) The Doors - "Light My Fire"
I think this may have been the song that Morrison was singing when he er whipped his 'fire' member out on stage in Florida and got busted for gross indecency. They said Joe Orton's member was in a terrible state when they autopsied him. I suspect the same would have been said of Morrison, if that is indeed him in the grave at Père Lachaise. The Doors are a remarkable entry in my record collection, seeing as they were a) from the 60s, a tedious musical decade and b) had no bass guitar



2) Cop Shoot Cop - "Fire In The Hole"
If like me you're missing the sound of the bass guitar, here's a band who had two of them! There, i feel like musical equilibrium has been re-established.



3) The Prodigy - "Firestarter"
I sort of like The Prodigy, but always feel they cut themselves short in their songs, the volume needs to be turned up to 11 and the song to go on for just a bit longer to really imprint itself into your cranium. But you gentle reader may feel you disagree...



4) The Jam - "Set The House Ablaze"
The Jam were the band I saw most regularly play live (until The Fall came along). This was always a show stopper live, but sounds a bit thin on this recording. You can always check out the studio version.



5) Lee Scratch Perry - "Soul Fire"
Love, love this song. That is all.



6) Gun Club - "Fire Of Love"
Confusingly this track is off their second album "Miami", even though the debut album was called "Fire Of Love". Primordial rock and roll. 1-2 Bash, plunk



7) Jimi Hendrix - "Fire"
And the master of the smoking guitar... I notice there is a Bruno Mars song of the same name, it better not be a cover version...



8) The Bug - "Catch A Fire"
More seductive than Jim Morrison's leather trousers.



9) The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown - "Fire"
This must have freaked folk out in the 1960s. No wonder they say rock and roll is the Devil's music.



10) Section 25 - "Friendly Fires"
Let's calm things down a bit shall we? Actually, this tale of aerial bombardment is really unsettling in atmosphere.



11) Einsturzende Neubauten - "Feurio"
A play on the German word FUEUR meaning fire, but I looked up the lyrics and it counts for the purposes of this chart. Anyway, my chart, my rules. Singer Blixa Bargeld's voice really is a musical instrument in its own right, not a soothing one, but what sounds come out of his larynx...



12) Talking Heads - "Burning Down The House"
The intro is way better than the rest of the song, but what you gonna do?



13) Johnny Cash - "Ring Of Fire"
Ladies and gentlemen, Mr Johnny Cash... Hate to think what "Viz" comic would make of the lyrics, the character Johnny Fartpants in particular. From the sublime to the ridiculous, mea culpa but that's how I (rock and) roll.



14) Marc Riley & The Creepers - "Baby's On Fire"
I know Brian Eno did the original, but I prefer this i finger on the piano version that shows it stripped down bare.



15) Public Enemy - "Burn Hollywood Burn"
On the one hand the timing is unfortunate with the recent devastating fires in Napa and surrounding areas, but then with the issue of Harvey Weinstein's white male patriarchal domination of the movie industry, then perhaps the timing is apposite.



16) Meat Puppets - "Lake Of Fire"
Always had a soft spot for Meat Puppets with their blend of punk and country rock.



17) Big Country - "Fields Of Fire"
Or rain in this case by the look of it. No one needs a drumkit that size. This is the Scottish version of The Meat Puppets methinks. Do you spot the essence of The Clash's "Should I Stay Or Should I Go" in the tune?



18) Sylford Walker - "Burn Babylon"
Reggae at its finest.



19) Birthday Party - "Sonnys' Burning"
A song truly from the bowels of Hell. Rowland S Howard's guitar is astounding as it builds up. RIP Rowland and Tracey Pew.



20) The Ruts - "Babylon's Burning"
My karaoke song at a work's Xmas Party (it was a punk karaoke). My voice is quite similar to Malcolm Owen's.



Bonus Track
MC 900Ft Jesus - "The City Sleeps"
Lots of songs here about sexual conflagration and emotional arson, but here's the real thing. The most chilling narrative about an arsonist.







Sunday, 15 October 2017

"Paternoster Row" - a drabble



As our forces advanced to reclaim the city, a dazzling patch of green sat at its heart. Had the suffocating high rises been temporarily eclipsed by the remnants of the smoke? Or perhaps they had been levelled by the aerial bombardment, restoring the city to its Medieval origins. The green park, the former common lands choked off by private capital, now unshackled so it and we, would be free to breathe freely once again. But as we converged on the city centre, we saw that the green was pulsing. A host of iridescent green blowflies colonising the city’s charred corpses.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

The Etiquette Of Party Bags - A guide





        

        



                  













                                             





        


          


            



     




  
From the forthcoming novel

published by Dead Ink Books

out soon