A brief break from the film (Warning: Contains sincerity and poetry)

Some days are meant for difference. Doing something a little off-kilter, an unexpected swerve from the usual routines. This could be something huge – the decision to don a dress and wellies and head to Sainsbury’s for a spot of lunch in the cafe or something minor, walking a new way home or slapping a long-forgotten CD into the stereo or, if you’re feeling VERY daring, perhaps having a coffee (gasp!) instead of a cup of tea. Although this will never come to any good.

So in this spirit I am going to do something a little contrary in this “blog” (I still hate the word), something that I am not going to shout about and something that I will most likely regret. I really should be bringing you up to speed on all things High Tide-related; there is lots to say and the excitement is building as we approach the shoot but to be honest, there will time for this in future weeks. So much so that you’ll probably tire of anecdotes about a hilarious incident with the clapperboard or when I fell over on a cliff-top and rolled in sheep poo. Bet you can’t wait! So tonight, I am going to swerve from the road of predictability, from the tracks of duty and faithful reportage, to confess to you all, dear readers around the world that I WRITE POETRY.

Phew, I lighter already. I am glad I told you.

I started writing poems aged seventeen to get girls. It really was that simple. Sometimes it worked. Oftentimes (I love that Americanism – I really don’t know why it has fallen out of use in the UK) it didn’t work at all and I was left looking just like all the other tossers who failed with women, except that I was worse because I wrote terrible poems and had silly hair. I was like a spotty Coleridge but without the talent or the enthusiasm for opium.

Anyway, here are some poems from the past fifteen years or so. I am not going to contextualise, explain or let you know which were successful. I am just going to write a few out below. And you can read them. Or choose not to. And then we can move on. Thank you for your patience.

empty

You looked so fragile as you
rolled yourself up into a ball
upon our sofa, legs tucked
under your chin and eyes
piercing a space somewhere
high above my head.
You have no idea how much
I wanted to throw my arms
around you and tell you
it would all be okay.

Sepia French Cafe

Shuffling starchly into the decaying room,
I shun tourist eyes and local smiles.
After a moment of weighty contemplation,
I pick a green corner seat and light
a phallic cigarette.

At the edge of a dusty mirror
I can see wax seeping from my moustache.
Very slowly I raise my hand and scrape
the debris away from my lip; trembling, I
draw on my phallic cigarette.

Through blue- tinted smoke a vision approaches:
Wrapped in black and frilled in white,
I order a cognac and specify the correct glass.
The vision scribbles, smiles a returnable smile, and I
tap my phallic cigarette.

As I sip and smoke I begin to feel the warmth;,
I loosen my spotted tie and unbutton my waistcoat.
Cooler, I stare at the liquid before me
and slowly begin to swirl it around the glass,
whilst clutching my phallic cigarette.

I hear a vague sound, but think nothing.
Sharp steps begin to approach but still I know nothing.
A breath of Chanel breezes into my nose and
(the tourists love this bit)
a black purse is thrown onto the table
making me drop my phallic cigarette.

I look up and she sits down.
After drinking my Cognac she stares at my face
and I notice the gap in her dress.
Vitriol pours from her lips and pausing,
she lights a phallic cigarette.

I wait for the anger to pass.
(It always does) and extinguishing my phallic cigarette,
I reach across to find her hand and
lean toward her sepia lips.
Repelled, she slips away with sadness in her eyes and

BANG!

The photographer jumps up from behind the bar
and the scene is cast.
The smoke thickens.
Dietrich sings.
And the tourists go home happy.

*   *   *   *

The blu-tack is beginning to fail,
and as I stick the card back onto the wall
I notice the expressions for the first time.
There is a story in that, I think to myself
as I light my phallic cigarette.

Poem for Jim Burns

I

I have met a new poet.
Jim Burns is (or was) his name;
if alive today
he is sixty one.

If he’s dead then
I’m very sorry;
not for old Jim
but for his family,

they must be sad.

II

He writes (or wrote) poems,
just that. Nothing else.
No grand statements,
only the poetry of his life,

of children, weather and flowers for his wife.

III

Words arranged amongst line drawings,
pictures of the naked seventies,
wallpaper breasts,
beanbag cocks

and nipples that would scare young children.

IV

Jim’s poems are brief
yet perfect. Thoughts jotted
quickly for posterity before
the peas are cooked

or an evening of glorious sex.

V

That’s about it for Jim Burns.
If he lives then I hope he’s well,
but if not, I hope his death
was like the final lines of his poetry:

simple and aching with peace.

Number Eight (of eight)

I will never forget the last time that I saw you.
Mum held your hand and I nearly cried as
Your face cracked into that beautiful smile.

Hello Gran. How are you?”

The smile waned and your brow
creased into furrows of concentration.

A long pause.

I am feeling much better, thank you

You then threw your head back and
opened your mouth in a silent laugh
only stopping to raise your hand slightly
and exclaim “lamp shade” at a startling volume.

We laughed. All three of us.
We had to.
How else could we cope,
Or hope to understand the
Insidious disease that had taken your
Mind so cruelly and left you
Slapping the tray like a baby?

And as you weaved your head in meaningless circles,
You paused briefly and looked into my eyes.
I could see the grey fog hugging your retina.
I only hope that the image found its way
Through the mist and you knew it was me.

But sad as it was,
What made it okay,
Was for those few minutes
I knew you were happy.

But I know you are even happier now.

A Midsummer Night’s Meme

In the mid 1990s there occurred a glorious couple of years when my cultural tastes and references (particularly in music) coincided with those of what is nonsensically called the “mainstream”. The music I loved was being played on the radio; you couldn’t switch on the television without seeing someone you thought was the epitome of cool, wearing slightly trendier and more expensive versions of the clothes that YOU WORE. England were briefly quite good at football; if only Gascoigne’s (fresh from scoring one of the most wonderful goals of all time) leg had been a few inches longer we may have made it to the final of Euro 96. And who knows, we could have won it (although that perhaps is a fantasy too far). The Boo Radleys made it to number one in the album charts – that’s THE BOO RADLEYS, not Cher or Bryan Adams or U2, but raggedy collection of indie-blokes The Boo Radleys sold more records that week than anyone else. Jarvis Cocker showed his arse to Michael Jackson at the Brit Awards and was consequently adopted as the nation’s de-facto Prime Minister. And talking of Prime Ministers, I will never forget getting gleefully drunk in our dingy basement flat in York as a generation of self-serving, overly-privileged, Conservative men were ousted from power for crimes against the poor and the weak. We were never going to see their like again (we thought; hindsight you whore, you make tits of us all) as we raised our bottles of cheap red wine and toasted OUR new Prime Minster Mr Tony Blair. What a glorious future he promised. What a glorious chance to start again, to make something fairer in this country, something better than ever before, all scored by a beautiful cacophony of jangly Britpop guitars . .

Yes, well. Best not to talk about what happened next really for fear of getting angry and sad on what is actually a beautiful summer’s evening.

This feeling of beautiful synchronicity with the age could not last. I knew that even at the time and as the new millennium approached so my grip on what was current slowly began to loosen and then it eventually gave way altogether. The Boo Radleys made a wonderful album called Kingsize that only about thirty five people bought and then they split up and their drummer became a music teacher. Other bands faded too; singers got fat and released terrible solo albums,  television changed, film changed and then in 2001 the world changed and as easy and inaccurate as such sectioning off of one’s personal history undoubtedly is, then the post 9/11 world coincided with a realisation that my days of beads, baggy jumpers and cherry-red DMs were probably over.

For a while this bothered me. I felt disjointed and adrift. But then I quickly realised that it did not matter a monkey’s ball whether I knew what was at number one or not. And so I began listening to folk music and wearing women’s clothes from the bargain rails of Marks and Spencer, those items that they really, really can’t shift unless virtually giving it away to lying fauxvestites like myself or dumping it silently on the steps of a provincial Oxfam store in the darkest hours of a winter’s night.

And in my own silly way, this state of contemporary ignorance has made for a largely jolly time over the years. Of course the young think I am desperately, even wilfully unworldly (in all seriousness I thought for some time that Rihanna was British. And white. And that her song “Umbrella” was a paean to our habitually wet summers) but that is fine; I know about the Boo Radleys and THEY DON’T. So who really is the winner? (they are). However, every now and then strange and disquieting ripples of culture wash my way and knock me off balance. Two of these ripples lapped by shores recently. They were as follows:


1. I owned the Number One single in the UK for the first time since . . . . god, I really couldn’t tell you. Maybe even since “Country House” by Blur (which remains a terrible stain on an otherwise wonderful career). Because we now live in THE FUTURE I don’t own a physical copy, but I paid for and downloaded Daft Punk’s Get Lucky because I like Daft Punk and I like this song. Especially the bit when the robot sings. For all their global kudos right now, for all their parties at the top of the Shard and spacesuits and lasers, Daft Punk are essentially just a couple of middle-aged French blokes in helmets. And I respect that.


2. I discovered “memes”. I say discovered, what I actually mean is that I realised what people were talking about they used the word “meme”. Not that it had happened with great frequency but when it did, I had just smiled and said “yes” meekly. However it turns out that “memes” are a thing and people make them and then share them on the internet. Sometimes they are “funny” and sometimes they are “cute” and sometimes they feature “cats” (no need for inverted commas I know but I am in the swing of things now) or “babies” or “ugly people” with some sort of “amusing” slogan plastered across the image using Impact font.

And they are weird. Deeply, unsettlingly odd. Not terrible necessarily but fundamentally bizarre. I realise I’ve missed out on ten or more years of meme evolution and so the jokes and references are not simply self-referential but they have reached such a level of meta-meta-meta-meta-comedy that even Professor Brian “Brian” Cox would have trouble explaining them to a mid-evening weekday audience whilst standing on craggy peak looking wistfully at a high-definiton sunset whilst the secular gods beteem the winds of heaven not to visit his hair too roughly. However, this does not account for some of the utter incomprehension inspired by this entire culture of ball-clasping oddity that is clogging up the electronic veins and passages of Old Father Internet.

Punch in “best memes” into Google images now. And look what happens. Look at the carnival of cracked and wonky humanity that parades across your screen: some of it satirical, some sexist, some racist, all of it just a little disturbing. And surreal. Rene Magritte would have flicked through the results pages and thought “I can’t compete with this; bugger it, I am going back to painting bowls of fruit. And boobs”.


But I come here to praise the meme, not to bury it. So I am coming to the meme party. I have a bottle of red and some flowers for the host. I am wearing my shirt with artichokes on it and I’ve brushed my hair. And I bring some memes of my own. Watch as these GO VIRAL BABY!

Nonsensical Meme Number 1: Leichtenstein and assess. 

meme1

Nonsensical Meme Number 2: Rain and dairy products. 

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Nonsensical Meme Number 3: A picture of Michael Stipe

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Nonsensical Meme Number 4: Existentialist high tea

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Nonsensical Meme Number 5: One for fans of Westcountry railway stations (and I know that there are many of you out there)

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So there. I can compete. I do understand. I can sit at your table of pop-culture and shake the pepper-pot of relevance. I am now. Ich heisse Herr Zeitgeist. Wo is das schwimbad bitte?

In other news, we are approaching the end of our crowdfunding campaign for our feature film High Tide. People have been really kind and we’ve responded by making a series of silly videos.

Here’s one I made about REM.

And another about cheese.

If you’d like to support the film then you can donate via our campaign page here. Even small amounts of money are very, very useful indeed.

Anyway, I think I have probably used up enough of your remaining time on earth with all these words and half-baked thoughts so from you all I shall take my leave.  But what to call this post . . . . hang on. Yes. Easy – MEMEBETH.