The upper echelons of movies, telly and publishing get a pasting in this extremely funny, very sharp satire. There’s the most hilariously vituperative prolonged abuse of an historian, who more or less is David Starkey at the end of ep 2, when Hugh Bonneville’s decent publishing chap finally cracks. Tom Hollander and Hugh Bonneville have never been better. James Fox is a languid rival agent to Hollander’s ‘toxic yob’. Lots of gorgeous women, all stark raving mad. A cocky young director is making a Tarantino-esque costume drama: Hung Drawn and Slaughtered. Many other terrible projects are being treacherously agented throughout. Lots of insider gossip. Brilliant script by James Woods. Light years better than the stilted W1A. Three half hours of pure pleasure. All on youtube.
“A horrifyingly amusing, twisted, sex’n’drugs-crazed examination of vengeance – both personal and state sanctioned. Oh yes, and did I mention that it’s a love story?” from Lesley Ann Sharrock’s 5 star Amazon review.
I needed a sequel to my Jesus of Nazareth low carb diet book: More Fishes, Fewer Loaves. But should it have been ‘Dread – the art of serial killing’?
Very British Author Problems: having a book out, being embarrassed at having to tell people.
What’s it about? Mr Madden, serial killer and spy, mistakenly captures Zero, a blonde American Goth, documentary maker, tattooist and Haiku poet. Now she’s staying in his dungeon workshop – where he sculpts the dead and has imprisoned the delinquent who killed his pregnant wife. It’s also a meditation on Charles Dickens, particularly The Mystery of Edwin Drood, an examination of rogue undercover cops, anti-Islamist street gangs and a polemic on the scandalous refusal of state schools to teach the bassoon.
In earlier desperate attempts at publicity I used to mention the household name rock stars I worked with, though it’s fifteen years since I played saxophone with Roy Harper, Bert Jansch, Kiki Dee or Tom Robinson – and thirty two years since our hit War Baby. Risible 80s hair at foot of this page: https://markramsden13.wordpress.com/about/
Last year I thought a newsy meme might help. ‘Peace Supremo Tony Blair joins the Dread bandwagon. “More blood than the Chilcot report. I can’t stop washing my hands.’
Someone managed to interpret this as support for Tony Blair. You’re safer just repeating the title, endlessly, although this confused Amazon’s robots.
‘Did you mean dead Mark Ramsden?’ they asked,
No, DREAD Mark Ramsden. Kindle 99p. Paperback £4.95
Fortunately Lesley Ann Sharrock, a sharp contemporary crime and horror writer, was quicker on the uptake. Her review:.
Killing With Confidence
ByLesley Ann Sharrockon 13 August 2015
Format: Kindle Edition
“It’s a tough job being a spy AND a serial killer. What with his chief-spook boss demanding results, the chav ‘Candidate number 9’ spending what is left of his miserable life trussed up in a coffin while Mr Madden contemplates his captive’s excruciatingly painful end, plus the lippy strumpet in the cage giving our hero earache AND the hots – such grief leaves the poor guy hardly enough time to score his next ketamine hit.
This is a laugh out loud, erudite, sly, blood-and-gore-soaked evisceration of an England we would prefer to pretend does not exist, with a series of cut-throat observations and knock-out one-liners that would make even the best political satirist weep with envy. A set of finely-tuned characters tread the boards in a horrifyingly amusing, twisted, sex’n’drugs-crazed examination of vengeance – both personal and state sanctioned. Oh yes, and did I mention that it’s a love story?”
Thank you Lesley! Her website well worth a look. http://lesleyannsharrock.com
Should I mention I was differently sane for some of the time this was created, marooned on a houseboat among the less than lovely pond life of Rochester? This is the Straight Outta Chatham gambit. ‘I suffered for my art, now it’s your turn’. I had never been delusional before, a condition that responded surprisingly well to fewer dissociative drugs and more sleep. Ketamine has tested well as a cure for bipolarity but under clinical conditions – as opposed to a debauched madman self-medicating as often as possible. Fortunately that’s all behind me. Now I make do with just anxiety, depression, paranoia, narcissism, delusions of grandeur, trying to ignore getting 18 out of 20 on the psychopath test and using harm reduction to manage chronic drink and drug addiction. (I didn’t like 12 step: whether crawling to the cross or rational guilt tripping.)
Drunk reactionaries Evelyn Waugh and Kingsley Amis both wrote about their mental illnesses. (The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold. A Peep Round the Twist.) If I’d read either of those I might have something useful to contribute here. Except: re drunk ‘reactionaries’, some of the outrage driving this story was the recent ‘if you oppose ISIS you’re a racist’ paradigm. (I’m going to use ‘hegemony’ in a minute, which I’m hoping will please any passing Marxists.) I’m a sober ‘reactionary’ now, well, at least I’m thinner than Waugh and K Amis.
(December 1st) It is now months since I promised a blog on John Fowles’s The Collector, and its strange after life as a guidebook for serial killers. This also featured a captured woman but the similarities end there. The Collector was a deserved critical and commercial success and will be in print as long as civilisation endures. I’m too content to write that blog now – thank you Kratom, and if a substance has managed to fix my many complex problems it is well worth checking out. As indeed is Dread but don’t take my word for it. On Amazon you can MARVEL at the other 5 star reviews! WONDER why this author is so desperate for validation! (Cold mother, authoritarian dad, occasionally bossy big sister. Which was decades ago anyway. Aren’t you supposed to…grow up? Before you’re, gasp, SIXTY? …) READ inside at Amazon. BUY IT for only 99p, not bad for a three quarter length novel. http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0137R82FM?keywords=dread%20ramsden&qid=1440671124&ref_=sr_1_1&sr=8-1
Dread – the Art of Serial Killing
“I loved you madly; in the distasteful work of the day, in the
wakeful misery of the night…”
Charles Dickens, The Mystery of Edwin Drood.
“The boldest way to supply the missing second half of Edwin Drood would be in the idiom of the present time.” BRIDGET BROPHY LONDON REVIEW OF BOOKS
AN ANCIENT CATHEDRAL TOWN
Rochester Cathedral: its square-towered splendour lit by a full moon. Frosted grass shimmers as Mr Madden crunches his way to the graveyard, long after midnight. He zips open a sleeping bag and shakes out the mutilated corpse of Candidate 9, still in hoody, jeans and trainers. He takes care not to desecrate a gravestone, thinking of the families of the dead. We are at at the spiritual centre of Charles Dickens’ final book, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, wherein a loathsome urchin throws stones at passers by. Perhaps he is an ancestor of Mr Madden’s latest victim, the sort of teenager now called a Chav. The word may have originated in nearby Chatham, certainly not short of feckless youth. Or does it come from the Romany for child? The answer is as elusive as the real person behind Mr Madden’s many identities. He was once a citizen. Before his pregnant wife was killed by a joyrider, just one of the large ever-fertile underclass of the towns alongside Kent’s River Medway. Dickens grew up here, a troubled childhood plagued by the imprisonment of his father for debt. He died in a nearby mansion, a house he promised his father he would buy.
Candidate 9 has an entirely scalped skull, just the eyeballs and teeth remaining. A few fake diamonds have been stuck to the skull in a sarcastic reference to a vulgar artwork by Damien Hirst. Mr Madden is not a fan of the world’s most successful artist but they both know how to make the front pages. A placard around the corpse’s neck reads, “Edwin Drood? The Diamond Geezer?” Mr Madden has signed his name “Chronos”, the Lord of Time and sketched a glyph of the ancient Snake God with its triple heads; horse, bull and lion. Sometimes this entity is represented as Father Time, an old man with a white beard. Whoever Chronos may be Mr Madden has him under control. Forty, looking thirty, tall, shaven-headed, solidly-built, he could be a feared thug or what he actually is, a spy and torturer employed by Her Majesty’s Government. To the tabloids he is the ‘Dickens Nut’, the ‘Kent Vigilante’ or, most often, ‘The Chavkiller.’
THE SILENCE OF THE CHAVS
“This stuff is radical!” said Zero, the young American blonde I mistakenly captured. She’s reading The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens. She’s smart, achingly beautiful and almost as mad as I am. Short, pert, hair teased into blonde and hennaed spikes framing a heart-shaped face. Her ever changing eyes are little vats of simmering moon juice, maybe blue, maybe green. Black lipstick and nail varnish. A blonde Goth. Presumably her black frock coat and shiny boots are hanging in her lair, along with the bats in her belfry.
Her blue eyes sparkle when she smiles, a vision almost enough to crack my frozen heart. She’s caged, but comfortable, in my basement dungeon which contains a St Andrews Cross, a blood-stained Black and Decker workmate, a gory array of saws, chisels, hammers, power drills and a blood-daubed signed and numbered Damien Hirst diamond skull print. The blood comes from my candidates. I’ve filled in the eyes, painted some lips on. And smeared my signature. As I’m an artist, too. Fame hungry. Greedy. Narcissistic. How hard can it be?
After last night’s risky installation piece – the Dickens/ Damien mash up, dumped in Rochester Cathedral graveyard, where my masked, hooded figure would have showed up on scores of CCTV cameras, I might not have much time left. This could be what screenwriters and Story Nazis call ‘The Inciting Incident’. My cosy domesticity, me and the candidates, has been shattered. I blame her. She’s trouble.
DRUGS. SEXUAL OBSESSION. COLONIAL ADVENTURING AND PUZZLES ABOUT IDENTITY.
One of my paperback editions of Drood has these words on the back. It could be my life story. No wonder The Mystery got under my skin.
‘“I am a muddy, solitary, moping weed,”’ she reads, hand on her forehead, melodramatic but just right for John Jasper’s obsessive love for Rosa Bud.
“He’s so in love with her,” she says, approvingly, for all male lovers must be so smitten. In an ideal world. Back in this one she reads on silently, rapt, with more relish than Branston’s pickle.
BOND. JAMES BOND. LICENSED TO KILL
Why did she had to go round Chatham doing wheelies on a little silver bike in a hoody and facescarf? Near the estate where the scrote who killed my pregnant wife lived? Lee Stone is already in my cellar, awaiting his fate. But I fancied nabbing his big brother. You know how it is with collections. Get one, get the set. I mean, how was I supposed to know she wasn’t him? It’s the fog of war, innit? As we used to say in Ireland after we had been torturing the wrong IRA guy for days. Or perhaps even tormenting an innocent civilian. It was somehow more of a farce in the Middle East, with the Americans in charge. Some of the interrogations were a little too thorough. A tad rigorous. And accidents do happen. No wonder Her Majesty’s Secret Service eventually decided I needed a rest. Invalided out. Oh the shame of it. Peaked too soon. Put out to grass. And now they want me back. I’m supposed to investigate some street hooligans and their far right party: England Awake!. The first thing I’m going to do is try to get them to lose the exclamation mark. These guys are already startling enough without annoying punctuation. Why did Control have to pick me? I suppose I’ve already got the shaven head, the muscles and the goatee. Just need a swastika tattoo.
HOWL OF THE LIVING DEAD: KILL. ME. NOW.
A bloodcurdling moan reaches us from the next room, slightly muffled by the coffin in which I have encased my wife’s killer. Lee Stone is currently listening to the sound of pigs being slaughtered, on headphones taped to his head, inside a blood-encrusted leather bondage mask. They don’t like it up ‘em, those pigs, and the squealing is an extremely hard sound to process, especially after the first six months or so. Or perhaps not. Maybe you get used to it. I must ask him one day. Zero asked that he be housed elsewhere as the screaming disturbs her rest. So he’s in the soundproof room. Did I leave the door open on purpose? There are no accidents as shrinks would tell us? Or do I like teasing my over-opinionated guest?
“You should finish that guy off,” she says. “He’s suffered enough.”
Mary, my pregnant wife may have suffered for an hour alone. Knowing our child was also dying. No. Eternity is not enough.
Could a popular composer and singer have been Jack The Ripper?
I’m a Robinsonologist rather than a Ripperologist but who can resist a thousand pages of closely researched non fiction by the creator of Withnail and I? The book, due in September, will detail his epic quest, started some time in the last millennium, an obsession perhaps deepened by his own Ripper film being scuppered by Johnny Depp’s From Hell.
It may solve one of history’s greatest mysteries. Whatever facts he has unearthed the prose will be more poetic than True Crime books generally are – just as his film scripts are more pleasurable to read than most, in addition to the great dialogue, the characters and the story.
They All Love Jack – Busting the Ripper Bruce Robinson
http://www.amazon.co.uk/They-All-Love-Jack-Busting-x/dp/006229637X b/w photos.
Michael Maybrick, brother of previous suspect James Maybrick, wrote light music, in collaboration with various lyricists, which is still performed today. The Holy City, one of many popular songs written as Stephen Adams, appears in a 1936 MGM movie, and is mentioned in James Joyce’s Ulysses.
This song is about Jerusalem but also references Freemasonry and the wisdom of Solomon, and Jesus as a descendant of Solomon and David. As a high ranking Freemason Michael Maybrick played the organ in a lodge, and was presumably able to derail an investigation into whatever nefarious deeds he may have committed – just as Jimmy Savile was protected, witness the strong Freemason turnout at his funeral.
Charlotte Church’s The Holy City was easier on my ear than the many stentorian male versions, which soon had my dear wife begging for mercy.
Michael Maybrick, singing without a microphone, would have had a powerful voice, a mix of bel canto and can belto.
The Three Tenors, with Church and holy places photos and info.
Biographical information is otherwise sparse: he may have been bisexual, the Maybricks were ‘cold and formal’. How would his brother’s poisoning and a notorious trial have affected him?
Most importantly, why would he stop killing? Serial killers generally don’t. Addictions get worse, tolerance requires stronger, more frequent doses. How could such a killer retire to become the Mayor of Ryde on the Isle of Wight?
Perhaps Bruce Robinson will address why there were no further Ripper murders or find further crimes that fit his modus operandi.
In the light of any new information, and the tendency for just about anything to become a musical (American Psycho?!) will we see a serious version of Spinal Tap’s Saucy Jack? (Which needn’t necessarily be ridiculous, see Sondheim and Tim Burton’s excellent Sweeney Todd).
Musicals aside, any Michael Maybrick film bio would feature They All Love Jack, a Stephen Adams song with lyrics about girls loving sailors – Jack Tars.
Can’t wait for September. If only to see Jonathan Woss interviewing Bwuce Wobinson about the Wipper.
Excellent summary of Bruce Robinson’s quest so far at http://www.withnailbooks.com/2013/11/jack-ripper-has-withnails-creator-bruce.html
Informative Michael Maybrick/Stephen Adams piece by composer Derek Strahan http://www.revolve.com.au/polemic/adams_profile.html
sheet music for They All Love Jack at http://levysheetmusic.mse.jhu.edu/catalog/levy:139.005
Though he doesn’t rate himself as a thespian, his perception perhaps skewed by harsh criticism at drama school and a sexual assault by Franco Zefferilli – Bruce Robinson’s skill with accents make him a great raconteur, although the stories are entertaining enough in print, see Smoking in Bed, conversations about screen trade misadventures, with Alistair Owen, a skilful interviewer.http://www.amazon.co.uk/Smoking-Bed-Conversations-Bruce-Robinson/dp/0747552592/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1433627309&sr=1-1&keywords=smoking+in+bed
Great screenwriting discussion here https://www.hayfestival.com/p-4890-bruce-robinson-talks-to-dylan-jones.aspx
Buckets of claret. Weird, unsettling visuals – a waking nightmare that’s much scarier than horror, as these events are all too plausible. Bitches and Butchery might have made a good title, if Hyena’s Albanian crime overlords had been consulted. They’re not likely to attend a men’s anti-sexism group any time soon. Inevitable reaction to a pair of male cops on their territory; ‘are they lovers?’
The violence was too much for a reviewer on the usually reliable Roger Ebert site, who starts by wittering about ‘bobbies’ – only fifty years out of date. ‘…its sheer unpleasantness may be enough to satisfy some viewers..’ Yes. Me, for one. Stand aside, you big girl. And I don’t think it’s ‘unbalanced’, possibly ‘racist’, to portray drug and sex trafficking kingpins as monstrous, murderous brutes. Any Albanians not running international crime empires will despise these vile thugs.
There is of course a lot more than ‘sheer unpleasantness’ to this original, bravura work. First class direction and cinematography, the actors and locations are utterly convincing. Police and victims’ support groups were consulted which shows in the grimly realistic script. Peter Ferdinando as an undercover detective is magnificent, inner turmoil often conveyed without words.
Some said it’s not news that cops can be corrupt, but it’s often ignored in unrealistic forensics shows, or polite dross like Midsomer Murders. Not everyone’s seen Bad Lieutenant, indeed it’s six years since the remake. If even the eunuchs at the Guardian liked this, with reservations, it’s obviously worth investigating – if you have a strong stomach.
Avoid if rape or extreme violence is triggering. Bodies are dismembered, the living and the dead. It’s not a barrel of laughs and I’m struggling to find something uplifting for those of us fighting depression. Hang on, I’ve kicked carbs – a rare victory against the forces of darkness. And there’s something to be said for shock therapy. I like a jolt, whether it be strong coffee, raw chillis, or the bleakest, blackest Noir.
One of the party-loving cops – Tony Pitts, brilliant acting throughout – tells an internal affairs guy he wants compensation for his employment-related depression. A pause then the interrogator erupts into incredulous laughter. Mental health may be over-diagnosed, it’s certainly over-medicated or at least those drugs don’t work – certainly not for me. And some compensation payments for public servants can look ridiculous. Yet undercover work is stressful enough to cause clinical depression even without battling ruthless killers. Maybe these cops could have done a little less booze, toot and MDMA? Is this just ‘Post-Nasal Depression’? – as Paul Whitehouse’s rock star says in the excellent Nurse. Well, those who risk their lives regularly often run on heavy fuel. We shouldn’t judge. My depression eased up since the three day parties finished. Not so high any more, but not so low. Getting used to the middle, the bullseye.
The ending – genuinely surprising – takes some getting used to. It’s the right one, though some will disagree for equally valid reasons. It has an echo of Get Carter director Michael Hodges’s I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead, another feelbad Noir, which also stays with you. Vivid, visceral cinema. Looking forward to more from director Gerard Johnson and Peter Ferdinando.
The protagonist of The Fire Within is a depressed, alcoholic writer. Great. Does he play the saxophone? He’s suicidal but there are limits. The Fire Within is mostly what our hero lacks, although it could mean conflict or what will eventually prevail. Pointless nitpicking but while we’re here one of the subtitles to Louis Malle’s Lift To The Scaffold was ‘poor show’, an odd choice considering there was no guest appearance by Terry-Thomas. We start in rehab, in bed with an intelligent, beautiful women who will do anything to help, one of several offers throughout. He’d rather suffer. ‘Once again the feeling has eluded him.’ Comparing reality with what you think should be happening is self-defeating. So he carries on doing it.
He is an Algiers veteran – a back story shared by the killer in Lift To The Scaffold, also played by Maurice Ronet. Jean Paul Belmondo or Gerard Depardieu have more charisma but Ronet’s perfect as a vapid drifter. As with Lift To The Scaffold, there is the highest quality cinematography and music which will last forever, this time by Erik Satie. Roger Ebert, the best film critic, recommends this highly, as do I, but this is an anti-depression blog, with a fewer-people-should-commit-suicide bias so I must point out that it’s eventually better to stop banging your head against a brick wall. If nothing else it’s nice when you stop. Our hero prefers the head/wall interface solution.
Like Leaving Las Vegas, this is based on a true story. A young man has supposedly seen too much of life and is certain it will never get any better. I was also convinced of this, as an especially tiresome teenager. Which can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Decades later I remember being shamed by a story in the self help book What Happy People Know. A man lost his business and many friends and employees in 9/11. He coped better than I did with ‘only’ a difficult divorce, involving children, heavy drug and alcohol addiction, unemployment, sexual exploration that went further than it needed to – right round the transgender spectrum and back – even dabbling in fetish sex work, (Not that there is anything wrong with that… but it’s not really me. And the clients deserved someone better looking.) There was the mid life crisis that hits even rich, successful people. It was bleak but then most of the planet wouldn’t mind loafing about with easy access to delirium and debauchery, in London, the city of infinite possibilities.
Paris eventually calls our hero out of his rehab half-life, although it fails to satisfy his fastidious nature. Among the irritations: the conversation of his haute bourgeoise friends – which is an entirely valid reason to commit suicide. One of the smug prats thinks western eroticism is based on good and evil, transgression and original sin. Really? I thought the reproductive imperative is triggered by an hour-glass figure, swaying hips, the uncontrollable desire to bury one’s face in a pair of insistently protuberant…be that as it may, perhaps something was lost in translation, here I empathise with the hero’s distaste for dinner party drivel.
I can’t agree with the criticism of his friend’s happy family life. Very occasionally anti-depressants would whisper to me that suicide was an option. Being less of tortured aesthete than our hero, it didn’t appeal, mainly because there were also responsibilities towards children who eventually turned out as well as possible, (mostly through their hard work). That bond might have fixed this guy. In the 80s a flautist friend told a Bavarian doctor about his existentialist angst (he was a big Sartre fan). The cure? ’Get married and have children. You won’t have time to feel sorry for yourself’. We laughed at this small town, conservative wisdom yet…it’s one solution, though conceptual despair will seem like a luxury compared to the challenges parents face.
Parents are happier than Philip Larkin ever was, sat there moaning on his own, or at least more satisfied. It’s also perfectly reasonable not to have children, of course, many fine people don’t, to their advantage. If the big adventure doesn’t appeal, or a wise woman doesn’t use her wicked wiles to persuade men they should reproduce, as so often happens, at least get some feelgood medication, preferably not energy and libido-sapping anti-depressants, something with a bit of zing. The high life beats no life. Our hero tells some opium users they’re dead inside – (the book was based on on a Dadaist poet in the 1930s, when smoking opium was more prevalent), Even if true, it’s better than being actually dead. Existential fail, dude.
If you can’t find the ultimate love affair, help those radicalised by the Algerian war or lose that all-pervading anxiety, can’t you just settle for something less? So you can’t get some obscure cigarettes straight out of rehab. There’s a solution…
And If you mope into an an early grave you’ll also miss this great movie. Ennui? Idiocy, more like… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-w-AGgWd4o A series of interviews and clips which greatly enhance the film. Paris then and now, who is an actor and who is an amateur with an ‘intriguing face.’ Satie’s Gnossiennes.
Beautifully packaged box set. available here http://www.amazon.co.uk/Louis-Malle-Collection-1-DVD/dp/B000ENUWF6/ref=sr_1_1?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1431604985&sr=1-1&keywords=louis+malle+collection Seems I saved £71 picking up a freecycle copy. Only one left! Lucky me. For once.
Curiously, the disc stopped playing for a while, Maybe it thought I was too déclassé to be watching it or it wanted to remind me that life is so much preferable to the eternal void. Then, like Christ and Nigel Farage, and his three day resignation, it came back from the dead,
If our doomed writer hadn’t been so contemptuous of his married friend’s ‘mediocre certainties’ he might have discovered that, just as reproduction can alleviate depression, It can also cheat death. or at least give him a black eye.
And nothing ‘gainst Time’s scythe can make defence
save breed to brave him when he takes thee hence.
(‘brave’ = challenge in this context)
Shakespeare Sonnet 12
Should we depressed people immerse ourselves in Noir? I’ve always been drawn to dark culture, gallows humour and a vicarious life of crime. I didn’t have any choice as to Kink, which can take you to very dark places, especially combined with drink and drugs, (as not recommended by scene preachers, widely indulged all the same.) Ecstasy and transcendence may only be a temporary solution – kicks, as some called it when this movie was made – but it works in the moment. Where we live.
Louis Malle came from a prosperous family but throughout this tangled tale of adultery and murder his sympathies are with the underdog. We open on a passionate declaration of love from a beautiful woman, straight to camera, no make up. With her lover she has plotted her husband’s murder. It’s a perfect locked room mystery until he goes back to be trapped in what may be a Lift to the Scaffold – the death penalty still applies. Later a car thief discusses whether his head will roll. Sports Car to the Guillotine? The American title for this was also a little awkward to English ears: Elevator to the Gallows. (I have recently been so immersed in the electoral defeat of a dictator’s stooge that I just typed ‘Gallows’ as ‘Galloways’.)
The killer is observed by teenage delinquents, perhaps the inspiration for the couple in Godard’s Breathless. He’s a James Dean wannabe in leather – a sulky churl who would benefit from some physical chastisement – nothing erotic, just a good, sound drubbing. She’s beautiful, charming and chic. And trouble. When their little adventure goes badly wrong she suggests an overdose, dreaming of newspaper headlines: ‘the tragic lovers’.
A more tragic, infinitely less glamorous couple were fighting at St Leonards Warrior Square when I returned from Bexhill, a pleasant coastal town where I picked up a freecycle Louis Malle box set from the station waiting room. Our star-crossed lovers were a stocky thug and a screeching shrew. Chav couture by Sports Direct. Loud, crude abuse courtesy of very few brain cells. Conflict resolution from Jeremy Kyle, the very name an amused bystander mentioned. ‘It’s always at this station’. Well, we also have Bohemia, which housed the original artistic rebels and still tolerates the genteel poor, including me and my wife.
Despite having acquired a criminal record through various drink and drug-fueled idiocies, I still reserve the right to despise thick yobs. Bourgeois hypocrisy? Classism? No, realism. Ted Lewis and Robin Cook/Derek Raymond’s narrators didn’t like the ‘slag’. Only twits like Owen Jones would think otherwise.
We could have done with Jeremy Kyle’s security as the bickering clods chased each other through the commuters. Some laughed, though what would have been one-sided violence very nearly erupted. I would have sat this one out, having already had permanent eye surgery after one intervention – perhaps handicapped by two bottles of vodka. (Top tip, skilled martial artists always look at their opponents).
To return to somewhat idealized criminality, this excellent beautifully shot movie finishes with the protagonists facing the consequences of their actions while us senior delinquents count our blessings, waking up in our own beds, freer than imprisoned existentialists. We still have a life sentence of depression but there is remission – especially through art, the deeper and darker the better.
The famous night time walk, waiting for her lover to return from the murder, unaware he is trapped. Miles Davis at his bluesy best.
next time – sex, suicide and Satie. The Fire Within. Louis Malle pt 2
Ted ‘Get Carter’ Lewis back in print from Syndicate books. New introductions. Classy covers. http://www.syndicatebooks.com/
Duke Ellington and John Coltrane In A Sentimental Mood.
Moderate drinking finally proved too dangerous after five months successful harm reduction. So I’m back to white knuckle sobriety. (AA jargon for the no slogan, non-Zombie, no-crawl-to-the-cross method.) I never surrendered to their system although elements of it once once helped me through eight and half years abstinence.
It’s very risky for alcoholics to start drinking again but I managed five months very occasional, very moderate drinking – inspired by Smart Recovery and the abysmally low success rate of 12 step. Till two weeks ago.
I had a two beers maximum, with the occasional bottle of spirits. It never got out of hand because booze isn’t ketamine, what I really want. (It’s a year since I’ve had any dance club drugs, achieved by a failsafe method which will beat any addiction: poverty. And ketamine may be permanently unavailable now due to a crackdown in India. It’s too risky and expensive to import. Now that actually was a cure for depression, if a tad unpredictable.)
The final drink relapse came out of nowhere, on a whim, the sort of inexplicable snap decision I was supposed to be writing about last time. (How a relapse can kill heroin addicts, RIP Harris Wittels, a superb screenwriter and so much more. https://markramsden13.wordpress.com/2015/04/04/relapses-and-overdoses-harris-wittels-parks-and-recreation-writer-wise-and-funny-enlightened-soul/). Which I either forgot about or realized there was nothing to say about a shadowy nemesis I will never understand.
An ABC impulse control strategy was recommended during my brief farcical entanglement with Rational Emotive Behaviorial Therapy. Yes, even the title contradicts itself. And why would you pay for anything invented by ‘Windy’ Dryden? (His actual name, the one he uses for professional purposes. I assumed it was a misprint and referred to him as Wendy Dryden in the first session.)
‘A’ was the impulse. You were meant to put something at ‘B’, (deep breaths? Soothing words?). This would prevent the impulse ‘A’ becoming uncontrolled anger at ‘C’. In those days ‘C’ arrived all too quickly. I might as well have had a magic spell to prevent lightning strikes. It was as much use as a water pistol against a flash fire. The rage kept on coming.
The slight improvement I’ve made recently may just be becoming more docile with age. Or I’m more conscious of mortality or failing health. Maybe I’m growing up, as I approach sixty? Fat chance. Whatever, somehow I managed five months of very careful occasional moderate drinking before I snapped.
I bought a bottle of rum and two bottles of 6.1% Bishops Finger – don’t like the taste or the name but it is the strongest good brew available locally. (They stopped the off licenses selling 10 % Viking death lager, which is harsh on us occasional headbangers who would like a significant consciousness alteration for a quid. Bloody do-gooders!)
Maybe this was the rare intoxication day you’re allowed in Smart Recovery? (As long as you keep counting the drinks and stay watchful as you return to moderate drinking.) Unfortunately I didn’t feel drunk or even remotely merry after a bottle of rum and two half litres of strong ale. Maybe it was over too long a time or I was on an upward bipolar energy surge but I didn’t feel a thing.
Money down the drain, for nothing, except a massive intake of useless calories, way too many brain cells torched and no exercise instead of the hundred press ups I’ve managed most days this year. Plus you age very quickly on such a regime. You look like your own ghost.
For once, miraculously, there were no psychotic internet posts – psychotic used correctly in the clinical sense, as insisted upon by the public school Bin Laden groupies at the Al Grauniad. They recently amended face-ache Marina Hyde’s drivel to that effect. (She’s just so effortlessly superior, which must be why she went out with Piers Morgan.)
So, no death threats or ‘extremist’ ranting (ie anti-Marxist, counter Jihad). My armchair thug must be running out of testosterone. Perhaps he’s taking female hormones in preparation for gender reassignment. Maybe he’s taken up Buddhist meditation, like my hero Herbie Hancock. (Whose autobiography is highly recommended)
A mild trance did ease the pain of listening to England’s feeble cricket performance on Test Match Special (I know how to party…) but the only positive was the realization this was the abyss, ‘hitting bottom’, after which the only way is up.
Many abstinent months are needed before playing with fire again. Feeling very good two weeks in.
I read somewhere that Duke Ellington may have stopped drinking eventually upon realizing he was sober after the intake of what should have been a stupefying quantity of booze.
Enough is enough. This drug doesn’t work.