White Christmas

Two good points this week – the dreaded German censorship (sorry, the protection of minors) law, which would have meant the closure of this blog has died. Unfortunately, like the bloodsucking vampire it is, it can still rise from the grave once more, so beware… But for the time being, German bloggers can peddle their wares without fear of being hounded by fortune seeking solicitors.

The second piece of good news was that Julian Assange was granted bail yesterday. Now I’m aware of the opprobrium surrounding this case, and that Assange has quite possibly a more than unsavoury role in his demise, but the fact of the matter remains that a damoclean sword hangs over him in the form of the retribution being sought by the US, the so-called bastion of free speech. This sword makes it almost impossible not to see this as a crusade against both the man and the ideals of free speech he has come to represent.

This little respite in an an otherwise wayward world gave me pause to peer out of my window onto a snow swept landscape and remember that they forgot to cancel Christmas again…

So, in honour to all you Christmas muffles out there I wrote this little ode. You can read it here.

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Golden Tone Radio

Just hunkering down for my next batch of corrections and thought I’d just quickly mention this song before attacking the looming mountain. It’s from my good friend Clemens Krallmann and his delightful band Golden Tone Radio, but is special to me because I wrote the lyrics. It’s called Pictures and you can listen to it here.

And here are the lyrics:

Pictures

Run, don’t miss your bus now,
You have missed it every day,
Love is growing stronger,
It’s so hard to leave our bay.

Dance, my eyes will kiss you,
I have kissed you every way,
Love is drawing closer,
The dawn seems so far away.

I adore you,
Like marshmallows,
We saw floating in the sky,
As we lay gazing at the clouds,
Painting pictures of our joy.

© Andrew Rossiter 2010

Isn’t it nice?

And another quick mention for this blog by Lars Iyer called Spurious: the basis for a new book which is basically a rambling dialogue between a disillusioned Philosophy Professor and his drinking friend – it’s wonderfully obscure and funny, and the bits on Philosophy at Essex University bring back memories, not so fond ones, but memories, anyway.

And that’s it for my quickies – it’s back to whittling down that mountain.

Whoa – bad news, Germany’s bringing in new censorship laws for the internet, well at least for people who offer content from Germany, which includes me. All content has to be categorised according to its suitability for children, just like in films. This means I will have to display a sign which looks a bit like this:

Now, of course, I’ve got stuff that could be judged as not being suitable for little children, but I’ve also got stuff which is, but the best bit about the law is that they say themselves no-one really knows what’s suitable and what’s not – it’s up to you to decide and for them to prosecute if you get it wrong…

Now, since the fines go up to €500,000 (and they’ve already prosecuted a couple of artists, not for that much, but even so) then I’ll just have to say sorry little German children you can’t read my poems and stories, but really, it’s probably for the best…

It’s still a bit ominous hearing about German authorities prosecuting artists for questionable aesthetics, it brings back dark memories – but I’m sure they have their reasons. Just as they have their reasons for sending people “home”. Anyway, I thought, since I’m here, I might as well write a poem in the language of my hosts: here it is, together with a little translation:

Asylant
Der Himmel bebte
Als das Flugzeug ihn küßte.
Es wäre in Ordnung
Wenn wir nicht schlafen müßten.

Der Himmel grollte
Als meine Frau weinte.
Sie saß im Flugzeug
Und wußte nicht wohin.

Refugee
The heavens quaked
As the plane kissed them.
It would have been alright
If we didn’t need to sleep.

The heavens growled
While my wife cried.
She sat in the plane
And knew not whither.

© Andrew Rossiter 2010

Powdered

Apart from trying to convince people to do the right thing I’ve been doing the wrong thing. I rather caned it on Friday evening at Café Meinke’s second anniversary. The staff had the evening off, and the guests ran the bar, and a wild time was had by all – but even if I say it myself, me and Thorsten were the virtual dream team – well until things went all blurry…

And, before doing that, I managed to write this poem:

Powdered (first draft)

There’s a guy in a tie,
Propping up the door,
To a shiny white cubicle,
Where they’re drawing the line.

And they’re huddled like kids
Shivering at the poolside line-up,
Waiting for the shriek of the whistle,
The stunned splash of ice-cold powder.

The first throws back his head,
He’s starting to gag,
As the kicking white medicine
Tickles a fist at his throat.

He makes a dash for the bar,
And takes a swig of champagne,
While laughingly gabbling
The dross from his brain,

He sees a girl on a stool,
With wide, staring eyes,
He puts a palm on her thigh,
And burns his hand on her skin.

But it’s the heat of the hob,
It’s the glean of the glass,
The sheen of the surface,
It’s the wild lash of a tongue,
But emptied of purpose.

So they thrust and they moan,
Like cheap porno stars,
pummeling their bones,
And the sour morning taste
Waits for the wash of the bars.

But I didn’t like it. The problem with it is that it was meant to convey both the tinny superficiality, together with the intensity of taking cocaine, but it ends up just being superficial. So what do you on a Saturday morning with a bad hangover and equally bad poem. Well, I turned it into the lyrics for a song, which I’ve sent to my good friend Clemens and Golden Tone Radio. I’m curious to see what he makes of them.

But what I did, after taking a couple of paracetamol, was to cut a refrain from one of the stanzas, simplify the language and the rhythm, and add rhyme to it. Here’s how the lyrics look now:

Powdered (Song version)

There’s a guy in a tie,
Propping up the door,
To a shiny white cubicle,
Where they’re chopping the score.

Refrain:
It’s the glean of the glass,
It’s the sheen of the surface,
It’s the lash of a tongue,
But emptied of purpose.

And they quiver like kids
Lined up at the water,
Waiting for the shrill of the whistle,
And the cold splash of powder.

Refrain

He throws back his head,
He’s starting to choke,
As the kicking white friend
Throws a fist at his throat.

Refrain

He makes a dash for the bar,
And takes a swig of champagne,
While tellingly gabbling
The dross from his brain,

Refrain

He sees a girl on a stool,
All wide-eyed and thin,
He puts a palm on her thigh,
And burns his hand on her skin.

Refrain

So they thrust and they moan,
Like cheap porno stars,
And the bitter morning taste
Waits for the wash of the bars.

2 x Refrain

I imagined a sort of Lilly Allen voice singing it, while I was writing it – just because I like her voice, but it still left me with the question, what do I do with the poem. I like the story and idea behind it, and the rhythmic crescendo. So on Sunday night, I chewed over the imagery and beefed it up. It’s not the final version, because the rhythm should be refined, but this is what I came up with: you can read it here.

And now it’s time for some Spaghetti Carbonara and an episode of the Sopranos…

Over the last week I’ve been “contributing” to Guardian articles in the comments area, but all it does is perturb me – utterly inane discussions about education cuts, immigration and the like, and the impression that the thirties are slowly but surely coming around again…

On the issue of education – when I went to Poly/University there was still a general understanding that access to education was for everyone who had the ability to complete the course, but that access would be affordable. The ideal behind it, of course, was that education should be free, entirely funded by taxes.

This view slowly changed as I started and Thatcher began cutting into the welfare state, but it was twenty years later under a Labour government, that substantial fees were introduced, and they began to wonder why working-class participation in education began to plummet. Now the middle-class are up in arms with talk about at least doubling fees, with a minimum (sorry, maximum) of 21000 pounds for a BA/BSC degree. Workers comment that this is a good thing since they are no longer prepared to fund degrees from which they don’t benefit, as if they were personally responsible for allocating their taxes. Everyone thinks of education as personal gain, ignoring any benefit education brings to society as a whole. But the idea of “free” education has flown the coop – depressing. But Britain does get to keep Trident – very useful.

Immigration – almost too sickening to write about. An Angolan refugee, Jimmy Mubenga, was smothered to death during deportation by his private guards. What was perturbing was the general view of other commentators that this was sad, but that was the price we had to pay for dealing with immigration. Except that we didn’t pay for it, Jimmy Mubenga paid for it with his life. As I said, perturbing.

Little Girl Lost

Have I really been away that long? It seems like years to me, and I feel guilty that I didn’t sign off or say that I’ll be away, but I didn’t know it would go on this long…

I have been in a turmoil about how to carry on with my blog – apparently if I put stuff up it’s no longer eligible for submission in a lot of magazines, which is fair enough considering they only want to show things which haven’t been seen before. But then I found I lost my motivation to keep writing in the blog, and even worse, found I was writing less as I looked into that black hole waiting for people to answer – it takes months. I can even understand this, as magazines and competitions are deluged with submissions, but I am an impatient person and waiting hurts almost as much as rejection.

And then two things happened –
1. I thought fuck it! which is always a good sign, and decided to do what I want, which isn’t always so good, but so what, so I’ll just be a bit more selective about what I put up in the blog – i.e. not the stuff I’ll be submitting, which means it’s not the best stuff, but at least it’s something.
2. but this is really weird – I had a dream! That’s a good thing too, because it shows that I’m sleeping, but I dreamt that the fascists were marching through Germany and all my friends were yelling at me to publish this on my blog and this is the real reason why I’m blogging today, to make sure that my dream doesn’t come true (fat chance of that).
Now if people think I’m being alarmist, just look across the way to France and what’s happening to the Roma, or here in Germany, with all the talk of integrating foreigners, and whatever that might bring with it (questionnaires, language tests, deportation because you squashed an umlaut) and maybe you’ll see things differently.
It’s funny – only three months ago the banks were still the guilty party, but strangely they have faded into the background and calls for bonus taxes or regulation are as ever met with threats that the banks will move away. So, instead of calling this fairly obvious bluff governments are turning their attention to that age-old cause of all woes – the foreigner! So I might have been away a long time, but things haven’t really changed that much…

But this particular foreigner is determined to make a good time of it, and has been sashaying across the Mediterranean in a beautiful pea green boat – okay, a week in Majorca with a couple of days sailing – but it was great, and a stormy sea helped me write this sad little ditty: Little Girl Lost

So now the wrangling begins. But what did anyone really expect from a set of parties short on ideas (what we used to call policies) and big on bluster? Hell, you know that Clegg can work better with Cameron than with Brown because he looks the better of the two, and is maybe a bit nicer, but in terms of ideas, let’s face it, there is nothing to pick and choose between the two. I would even go so far as to say a Tory – Labour – LibDem coalition still wouldn’t make a difference as to what’s going to happen. We could call it the bcc coalition.

So what’s on the agenda then? You only have to look across the waters to Greece to see what’s on the cards – a slide in Britain’s credit rate, market turmoil, pale faces and accusations followed by cuts, big style. And where? Well, who always pays when the going gets tough? That’s right – the poor ones – the pensioners, the unemployed, the students, the sick on the one hand, and the people who service them on the other, nurses, civil servants, teachers etc.

And what exactly will they be paying for? The massive hole in the world economy left by the banking fiasco at the end of this decade which Western governments were forced to shore up because they were too afraid to take on the banking community and reform their inherently corrupt systems.

And meanwhile, the banks are making money again…

So I’ll leave you all with a post election question – just exactly who will the future bcc coalition actually represent? Of one thing you can be sure of, it won’t be me.