Tuesday, 28 December 2010

I Really Need To Start Keeping A Pen And Some Paper In My Bathroom.

I may well have said that before, and/or that may just sound bizarre, but there is a reason for this.
I find that the bathroom, for some reason, is somewhere in which I come up with a lot of my ideas. Now, if I'm somewhere other than home this isn't usually a problem because I normally have a pen and some old receipts in my pockets with which I can make notes or jot down a couple of lines. I sometimes even use my phone and save said info as a draft text message. The time it takes to do this is never a problem as pretty much everyone I know now knows that even at the best of times, my IBS leads me to be on the toilet for longer than the average person, so it is thought nothing of.
When I'm at home tho, I like to take everything out of my pockets to feel more comfortable, you know? You're at home Axl. Relaaaaaaaaax.
This does however lead to things like what happened about 3 hours ago when I was on the toilet (don't worry, I won't go into details) and got a massive flash of inspiration. Not just a great idea, but a great idea with several lines and incredibly clever, packed, non-formal schemed rhyming. About 7 or 8 lines of complex poetry suddenly flashed into my head. I immediately reached for my pockets to find no pen or phone. Shit!
I had receipts in my back pocket tho. If I could find something to write with, I would be fine. But what is there in a bathroom to write with? Well, luckily I live with two women, which means that in my field of vision there was a bag of make-up/lotions/female stuff. If I could find an eyeliner pencil in there, my idea would be saved.
No eyeliner pencil.
I looked for ages. I started turning out the contents onto the floor by my feet. There was no eyeliner pencil to be found. Nothing I could write with at all. There was however, totally randomly, a box of matches. I have no idea what they were doing in there and I almost ignored them, but then I remembered one making mark on walls with matches when I was trying to light them on various surfaces. I tried to write with a match on a receipt.
They were safety matches tho. No marks left. Balls. I did notice tho that it had left an almost invisible indentation on the receipt just by having been pressed into the paper.
I started to write. By this point tho, I had forgotten almost everything that had come to me. It was gone. Gone. Not coming back anytime soon either. So I ended up only getting down a basic version of some of the lines and with it, a general idea of the poem, rather than the sure thing I had originally thought up.

All of which means that this will probably end up not being usable. Which means that I need to start keeping a pen and some paper in my bathroom. See? Not so weird after all, is it?

Monday, 27 December 2010

Don Paterson - 'An Elliptical Stylus'

I just read this fucking amazing poem which I felt the need to share with you all. Don Paterson is a modern Scottish poet who has won both the Whitbread Prize for Poetry, for his 2003 collection Landing Light, and the Forward Prize for Best First Collection, for his 1993 collection Nil Nil, the collection that this poem is taken from.
Here it is. I really hope you enjoy it.

Don Paterson, An Elliptical Stylus

My uncle was beaming: ‘Aye, yer elliptical stylus -
fairly brings out a’ the wee details.’
Balanced at a fraction of an ounce
the fat cartridge sank down like a feather;
music billowed out into three dimensions
as if we could have walked between the players.

My Dad, who could appreciate the difference,
went to Largs to buy an elliptical stylus
for our ancient, beat-up Phillips turntable.
We had the guy in stitches: ‘You can’t…
er… you’ll have to upgrade you equipment.’
Still smirking, he sent us from the shop
with a box of needles, thick as carpet tacks,
the only sort made to fit our model.

(Supposing I’d been his son: lets eavesdrop
on ‘Fidelities’, the poem I’m writing now:
The day my father died, he showed me how
he’d prime the deck for optimum performance:
it’s a lesson that I recall – how he’d refine
the arm’s weight, to leave the stylus balanced
somewhere between ellipsis and precision,
as I gently lower the sharp nib to the line
and wait for it to pick up the vibration
till it moves across the page, like a cardiograph…)

We drove back slowly, as if we had a puncture;
My Dad trying not to blink, and the man’s laugh
stuck in my head, which is where the story sticks,
and any attempt to cauterize this fable
with something axiomatic on the nature
of articulacy and inheritance
since he can well afford to make his own
excuses, you, your own interpretation.
But if you still insist on resonance –
I’d swing for him, and every other cunt
happy to let my father know his station,
which probably includes yourself. To be blunt.

What I love about this poem is its last stanza in particular, which breaks not just the conventions of the 'fourth wall' but the conventions of poetry in general. This is something that is particularly difficult to do nowadays as we live in an age where pretty much anything goes in poetry. The fact that there is still something that defies expectations as much as the final stanza of this poem does is something I find astonishing. This aside, it is also a deceptively emotional poem, something that is also revealed in that final stanza. When the emotion comes, it comes as a shock. You aren't prepared for it and as a result it gives a reaction of shock, as well as the emotion you would have got from it anyway, which adds weight to the emotions themselves. It's extremely cleverly done.
Damn, I hope I can write something this strong and this affecting one day.

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Christmas Carols.

Yeah, I know it's the wee small hours of Christmas morning and I should be asleep, but I can't because I appear to have picked up some sort of bug tonight that means I'm sneezing and coughing so much that my throat and chest hurt. Doesn't exactly make sleep an easy thing to get, so instead of going insane, I'm doing this instead.

I'm gonna say something I don't hear said very often:

Christmas Carols are fucking weird.

First of all, I find the concept of Christmas Carols a little odd. Why aren't there other well known songs for other religious events? Has anyone ever thought of writing a collection of Easter Eulogies?

Secondly, most Christmas Carols seem to have had no compositional effort put into them whatsoever, certainly not in the lyrics anyway. For example, take 'The Holly & The Ivy.'
Now, let's start with the title. For a song that is about holly AND ivy, it seems a little odd that ivy is only mentioned twice. Once in the first line of the first verse, and in the first line of the last verse, which is just the first verse repeated. The song mentions holly in almost every verse, but ivy is pretty much totally ignored.
The lyrics themselves are mostly unbelievably lazy comparisons between holly and the birth of Jesus. Take this verse:

'The holly bears a prickle,
as sharp as any thorn,
and Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ,
on Christmas day in the morn.'

Right. What is that verse actually saying? It seems pretty obvious that whoever wrote it was intending to say that holly bears something very painful just as Mary did in the act of giving birth, but both do so valiantly and should be celebrated for this. Problem is that what holly bears is not actually pain but something that gives pain. Therefore what the song is actually saying is that Mary has given birth to something that will give pain. Yep. Sorry, but this lyric is so weak that it says the opposite of what it actually intends to.
Think I'm wrong? Think I'm overdoing it somewhat? Okay, let's take the previous verse:

'The holly bears a berry,
as red as any blood,
and Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ,
to do poor sinners good.'

Okay, first thing's first. What the fuck is that even supposed to mean?! It's seemingly just two random statements put together in the hope no-one will notice. It's like it was written by a child with ADHD just saying the first things that come into their head. You may as well have a song that goes 'The grass is green in the park / and I ate chicken for lunch today / and ice is cold.' It makes just as much sense.
Unless you actually look at the comparison being made. It does make sense, just not the sense the writer wants to convey.
If you look up holly on Wikipedia, the first line states that 'Holly berries are somewhat toxic to humans,' which considering that the following line is about the birth of Jesus would seem to suggest that Jesus' reason for being is to do harm to sinners. It's the 'cruel to be kind' principle. That is the only logical conclusion one can come to in comparing a holly berry to Jesus Christ doing 'poor sinners good'.
I could go on, but I feel I should move on.

Because this is by no means the only carol with ludicrous lyrics. Take this verse from 'O Come All Ye Faithful':

'God of God,
light of light,
lo! He abhors not the virgin womb;
very God,
begotten not created.'

Sorry? What? Are the wombs of virgins normally supposed to be abhorred? What on Earth does this line mean? What on Earth is it even supposed to mean?! It sounds more like a prog rock lyric than a Christmas Carol!

Elsewhere, we learn that Jesus was born after his due date in Hark The Herald Angels Sing; 'Christ, the everlasting Lord, / late in time behold him come, / offspring of a Virgin's womb!' Now, don't you all feel better for knowing that?

Aw, I had another one and I've lost it now.

So I shall leave you with this verse from 'We Three Kings' which explains why Myrrh was given as a gift to the baby Jesus:

'Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume
breathes a life of gathering gloom;
sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying,
sealed in the stone-cold tomb.'


Monday, 20 December 2010

Celebrity Reality TV Ideas.

Haven't posted regularly recently due to college stuff, but we're done for the term, so I can go back to filling your eyes with my garbage.
I had some ideas for new celebrity based reality tv shows today which I'm gonna run by you. Celebrity reality tv doesn't appear to be going away anytime soon, far from it in fact, so I'm gonna get in the game. Here are my ideas.

* Strictly Come Nursing
People are always saying stuff about hospitals being understaffed and so why not give them the Celebrity treatment? Each week a bunch of people who used to be in Eastenders or Corrie or Hollyoaks compete to see who can be the best at helping out in a real hospital.
If that's not exciting enough, how about;

* Strictly Come Surgery
Each week celebrities are taught how to do a new surgical procedure which they have to perform while being filmed. Maybe someone from Strictly Come Nursing can mop their brow when they get a sweaty forehead. Whoever performs the surgery worst, loses and has to turn in their surgical whites and leave the contest. They cry and say how if only they'd managed to keep their nerve, they wouldn't have cut the patients artery.

* Celebrity Masturbate

Each week a group of celebrities take it turns to have a wank while Greg Wallace and John Torode watch. They analyse and mark them on technique, pleasure, etc, and whoever they deem to be the worst wanker is out of the contest. You could even have a spin off series called 'Masturbate: The Professionals' where Greg Wallace and Michel Roux Jr. judge a show of the same format, but this time with porn stars as the contestants.

* RU

Chris Moyles, one of the most "how the fuck are you famous" people ever, hosts a new Celebrity quiz show where him and his celebrity guests talk about things that are Really Uninteresting in a sort of loosely based quiz show format. Somehow we are expected to find this entertaining. Oh wait, hang on, Channel 4 already commissioned that...

I had more, but I've forgotten them now.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

A Brief Word About Adverts.

Adverts can be good. One just reminded me how FUCKING INCREDIBLE this song is.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

BBC Sound Of 2011.

It's that time of year again folks, when the BBC tell us what we can expect to have rammed into our ears for the next 12 months. This means that I'm going to listen to them all and tell you what I think of them. Although the last two years have produced a mostly unpleasant list, I have enjoyed writing the posts about them (to refresh your memories:- 2010's: http://bit.ly/evPdfd 2009's: http://bit.ly/he8DZc ) and last years list introduced me to Gold Panda, who I really like, so I'm hoping for another pleasant surprise like that.
Well, here goes!

#1. Anna Calvi.
(Song: 'Jezebel')

Sounds like Patti Smith or Jefferson Airplane soundtracking a
Western. It's very weird. Not in a good way.
It's a song in which virtually nothing happens. Not in a good way.
It's boring. Very boring.

#2. Clare Maguire.
(Song: 'Aint Nobody')

Not a cover of the Chaka Khan song. Shame, it might be a bit more interesting if it was.
Clare Maguire probably thinks she's doing something really interesting and different but in reality it just sounds like she has listened to a lot of Kate Bush and totally missed the point of it.
Again, it is very boring.
This song also has a really lacklustre ending, like she just went... hmmm... how can I describe it... Right. Have you ever seen the Bill Bailey live bit where he talks about how it sounds like the writer of the Countdown theme tune just couldn't be bothered to finish it properly? That's what the end of this song sounds like. Like she went, 'Oh, I can't be bothered with this song anymore, let's just end it there, yeah?'
Also, whoever directed the music video has watched the video for Madonna's 'Frozen' a bit too much and thought 'I'll do that but in a bit more of an edgy, surrealist cinema style. Yeah, that'ld be cool.' It's not cool. It looks like the song sounds. Lazy and dull.

#3. Daley.
(Song: 'More Than A Woman')

Another song that share's a name with a very famous song. Is that gonna be a theme of this list?
Daley has fucking stupid hair.
He can sing though.
And he's not afraid to show that off. This song pretty much is just his voice with very minimal accompaniment from a drummer and a bassist. After three minutes some minimal keyboards come into play too, but this is a song based on his voice.
But it's just inoffensive fluff. Another white boy who got soul wrong.

#4. Esben & The Witch.
(Song: 'Marching Song')

I've heard of this band but never actually heard them. Let's see how this goes.
Ooooooh, apparently the video "Contains upsetting scenes." Scaaaaaaaryyyyyy.
Okay, Esben & The Witch might be my Gold Panda for this years list. That was fucking good. I could tell how good I thought it was because I didn't write anything for the whole time it was on and am in fact listening to it a second time now.
It's a really good, slow building, atmospheric post-rock song. Now, as a sentence to describe music, that has become as overused as 'LOL' is on Facebook, but I can't think of a better way to say what it is in a way that is understandable.
And the video is actually kind of genuinely disturbing. It's like they've been taken hostage and been made to sing after various stages of being beaten up. It fits the theme of the song (war, battle, loss, etc) really well. It's actually left a bit of an impact on me.
As I said about Gold Panda last year, I will definitely be keeping my eyes and ears out for this band.

#5. Jai Paul.
(Song: (Hang on, they haven't put a song on there. *Hunts the internet* Okay, now I can see why everyone is complaining about MySpace. *Hunts more internet* This computer isn't letting me look at YouTube. *More hunting* Okay, hype machine has something.) 'BTSTU')

Fairly interesting song. Sounds like a discarded MIA instrumental slowed down with some male falsetto singing over the top. Some interesting things going on, but it just manages to miss the mark in terms of making me go 'Yeah, this is good,' and so I just think this is alright.

#6. James Blake.
(Song: 'Limit To Your Love')

Right, a couple of people I know have been creaming themselves over this guy, so I'm pretty interested to see what the fuss is about. Apparently he makes 'Post-dubstep torch songs.'
This song is piano and vocal chorus followed by slowed down dubstep verse, the cycle is repeated then both elements are brought together for the finale.
Here's the problem. There just slightly too little going on. The concept of what he's doing is actually very interesting, I just think it can be done better than this. It does show definite potential though, and I will certainly keep eyes and ears on him as he could well come out with something very good indeed. The ingredients are there, for sure.

#7. Jamie Woon.
(Song: 'Night Air')

Weirdly, this sounds like Ali Campbell from UB40 covering Jamie Lidell. As a song, it doesn't really go anywhere. It's a little bit nothing. No, that's harsh. It's alright, it just doesn't really do anything.

#8. Jessie J.
(Song: 'Do It Like A Dude')

The song sounds like someone listened to that awful Ke$ha person and instead of thinking "This is a total rip off of Uffie and it's terrible," thought "Hey, this is so modern and edgy. Let's do a faux feminist take on it!"
It's awful. Seriously awful.

#9. Mona.
(Song: 'Trouble On The Way')

Generic, boring rock music that doesn't in any way actually rock.
The funny thing is that the BBC iPlayer got bored of it about halfway thru and stopped playing it. Sadly after a little rest, it played the rest of the song.
If you like that band The Gaslight Anthem, then you'll probably like this.
I don't.

#10. Nero.
(Song: 'Innocence')

Okay, this song gets IMMEDIATE props for using clips of 'Cyber City Oedo 808' in it's video. I fucking loved that anime! WHY HAVEN'T THEY PUT IT ON DVD?! I only have it on VHS and my stupid video player doesn't work BECAUSE NO-ONE'S VIDEO PLAYERS WORK ANYMORE. That was the series that got me into anime. It was the first anime I ever watched and I absolutely loved it. I STILL DO! WHY ISN'T IT AVAILABLE ON DVD?!

Oh yeah, the song.

It's kind of a combination of trance and dubstep, if that makes ANY sense at all. The result is that it sounds VERY commercial and Nero will probably be massive.
Again, it's alright, but it's fairly standard. It follows a formula rather than stretching any boundaries, which it could potentially have done.

#11. The Naked & Famous.
(Song: 'Punching A Dream')

(Hate the band name. Love the song name.)

Sounds exactly like a slowed down MGMT song but with a female singer.
It's boring. It's massively derivative. It's irritating. I'll probably have to hear it about a thousand times, everywhere for the whole of 2011.
Fuck you, The Naked & Famous.

#12. The Vaccines.
(Song: 'Blow It Up')

They might well be the The Drums of 2011. By that I mean they are massively boring and simple but everyone will think they're cool because they use an old guitar sound.

#13. Warpaint.
(Song: 'Undertow')

Amazingly enough, even though this band are so massively hyped at the moment, I still haven't heard them.
I would be willing to bet money that my girlfriend would love this. It sounds a bit retro, but still pretty modern. The kind of sounds she really goes for.
It's pretty good to be fair. I'm liking it.
Oh, that's annoying. They've become victims of the "I don't know how to finish this song properly" bug that Clare Maguire had. Shame, it was building into something pretty special too. I will definitely check out more of their stuff.

#14. Wretch 32.
(Song: 'Traktor')

Traktor? Is this song going to be an homage to the short lived band I was in, Traktors? Will it be an onslaught of awesome noise? Will it? Will it?
No, of course not, Axl. Don't be stupid.
Wretch 32 has a very odd face face. He looks like he could be anything between 20 and 40 years of age. I honestly wouldn't be surprised if I found out he was really old or really young.
The song is a little boring. No, that's a little unfair actually. It's alright, its just that it's one idea repeated just a little bit too often.
And I'm pretty sure one of lyrics is "Eat peas every day."

#15. Yuck.
(Song: 'Georgia')

I saw this band a few months ago and found them pretty boring.
Yeah, my mind hasn't changed. They still just sound like a less good version of Dinosaur Jr to me.
Quite dull. Very derivative. Don't bother. Listen to Dinosaur Jr instead.

And that's it for another year.
Top 3 time.

1. Esben & The Witch.
2. Warpaint.
3. James Blake.

Check them out.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Weatherspoons Burgers.

Today me and my mates Humphrey and Adam were in a Weatherspoons (the one in town isn't actually too nasty and it sells Stowford Press cider which pretty much makes it worth going to by default) and were feeling a little peckish. There were some vouchers that had been given out for money off food, so we thought we'd eat there. We all had burgers.

One time when I went to ATP, me, Gen and our mate Alison all bombed a load of MDMA and missed seeing Fucked Up because we were all just sitting in the bowling alley bar staring vacantly and unable to move or converse. Occasionally one of us would say something like "Woah. I feel really spaced out." and the others would agree.

This is what it was like today in Weatherspoons about half an hour after we'd eaten their burgers. We were seriously monged. I don't know what the fuck they put in those, but it made us all feel very mellow and sleepy and unable to talk to each other or move very much.

I can only conclude that the marketing people at Weatherspoons should promote them as a legal high. They would make a shitload of money if they did that, I reckon.

You could say this is yet another of my million pound ideas. They would never take it on though. They'd probably be worried about negative reactions in the press or something.

Monday, 29 November 2010

My Latest Million Pound Idea.

Yes. It's been a while since I had one of these, and this one is totally awesome. It wouldn't make me a million pounds, but it would make Walkers a fuck load of money for sure.

Next year, Walkers should make giant advent calendars that have a packet of crisps behind each door.

Why don't they do that?! I would fucking love that! They should do it. I'm gonna send them a letter or an email suggesting it.

Thursday At The Betsy Trotwood Part 2.

After I had performed, and as the night had finished and I was leaving to come back to Oxford, I was stopped by someone.

Them: "Sorry, can I just say something?"
Me: "Sure."
T: "I thought about 90% of what you did was shit."
M: I was caught a little off guard so just ended up saying "Oh."
T: "Yeah. There was this one poem you did with this image of shoes hanging..." they were talking about my poem 'Suspended' "...which was really good. Why do you do all that other superficial stuff?"
M: "I enjoy doing it. It makes people laugh and I enjoy doing it."
T: "Really?! I didn't enjoy it at all."
M: Pretty sure I just said "Oh." again. I was totally off guard and couldn't come up with any intelligent response.
T: "Yeah, I just think that if you can conjure up that kind of imagery like you did in that one, why would you bother doing any of that other stuff? I hated that most of what you did. You shouldn't do that other stuff, y'know?"
M: Resigned to the fact my brain has pretty much stopped almost all immediately useful functions. "Okay. Well, that's given me a lot to think about. Thanks for the honest feedback."
T: "Oh, no problem."

This made me feel pretty weird for a bit. Then as soon as I got on the Oxford Tube, I suddenly started smiling. I realised, I had my first hater! Someone had such a reaction to what I did that they felt the need to stop me and tell me about it. It was kind of cool.
I mean, yeah, if it happened all the time, that would be pretty demoralising. It's certainly not something I would want to happen too often, but, oh I don't know how to describe it properly. I just thought it was pretty cool, that's all.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Thursday At The Betsy Trotwood Part 1.

Thursday was the third night I've done at the Betsy Trotwood now. I decided to do something a bit different and perform some poems that aren't humourous. Serious poems. 'Straight' poems, I suppose would be the best way to describe them.
Normally, I perform poems that are trying to be funny, that people usually find funny. I've used the last couple of Betsy Trotwood performances to try out new poems. This time, that included a poem called 'Grief' and one called 'Suspended'. These are poems about... I wrote what they were about and deleted it. If yer at all interested, nip over to paulaskew.tumblr.com and have a read.
Now, I'm used to audiences having a reaction of some sort. People either listen and laugh, sometimes applauding, or don't listen and have a chat, or even just get bored and leave. There's always some sort of reaction though.
After I read these poems tho, nothing. Silence. Absolutely nothing.
I was told later that people were unsure whether to applaud or not because they felt uncomfortable doing so. They didn't know how to react, so they just didn't. It seemed to really affect people somehow. They were the poems that everyone specifically mentioned to me afterwards. It was pretty awesome to know that people were willing to let me give them something a bit different to what I usually do, and that they really took it in and considered it.

I really like performing at the Village Green Preservation Society night. They always create such a great atmosphere there and the upstairs room at the Betsy Trotwood is a really cool room to perform in. Next one's at the end of January (they're having December off), 27th to be precise, and I am already looking forward to doing it.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

"Mabel." Live from the Edel Assanti, London.

This is a poem from the London Poetry Systems gig I did in Aug/Sept this year.
This is the best video there is of me yet.

PAUL ASKEW - Mable from Big Face Art on Vimeo.


Does anyone else find that the more we communicate, the less we actually understand communication?
Social networking, for all its good points, does seem to have made people a lot more quick to judge and less considering of things. It's as if we've become accustomed to now only know how to have an instant reaction to anything and no longer really think about what's actually being said.
People seem to be forgetting that things like context exist and are very important.
People seem to be forgetting how to take a joke or how to take something on the chin.
Everything we say can come under such scrutiny now that it almost feels like people are looking for something to be annoyed about and it's not worth actually saying anything because everything we feel comfortable saying is becoming so sanitised to the point of it being almost pointless.
Maybe we all need to give social networking a bit of a rest and learn how to actually comunicate with each other again.

Or am I just becoming an old fuddy-duddy?

Sunday, 21 November 2010


On Friday I went to the Coronet Theatre in London for an all-nighter that had a bill featuring both Four Tet and Caribou playing live sets. It was fucking amazing. Nathan Fake dj'd and was really good. Caribou's live set was seriously awesome. Then Four Tet played and blew my fucking tiny mind with his amazingness. Seriously, when he played 'Love Cry' I went a bit nuts and felt like I was about to dance my limbs off.
I would go into more detail but I'm not sure I can while doing it justice. Just accept that I fucking loved it.

Anyway, I ended up not leaving the Coronet until about 4am. I had to be at work 6 hours later. In Oxford.
I got home at exactly 6.45am.
I got less than three hours sleep.
I had to go to work.

So maybe I was hallucinating when I saw a man dressed like a mediaeval warrior going into The Magic Café on Magdalen Road.
Maybe I was imagining the tramp with her trousers and pants down round her knees as she was looking through the bin on the corner of St Mary's Road and Bullingdon Road.
And you know, work was pretty tricky on so little sleep, so maybe I wasn't really walking behind a man who was only wearing shorts and a t-shirt who was eating a cornetto (Remember, it is currently a particularly cold November at the moment).

No. All of those things happened. And I'm still really tired. But it was totally fucking worth it.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

This Keeps Happening.

Person: 'Hey Axl, how's your comedy thing going?'
Me: 'It's not really comedy. It's poetry. Some of it just happens to be funny.'
Person: 'Really?' Eyes glaze over and they stop listening.

It's kind of infuriating that if I were doing anything other than poetry, people might actually be interested in what I was doing.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Quick Question.

Has anyone ever watched 'Richard Bacon's Beer & Pizza Club'?
That is the same set they used for Baddiel & Skinner's 'Fantasy Football League' right?
Nice to know that ITV believe in recycling.

Friday, 12 November 2010


So, I went on the National march to protest against the education cuts on Wednesday. Yes, I was in the group of people who went to the Millbank office complex. No, I wasn't one of the violent ones.

Something that I've found interesting though is the simultaneous accuracy and inaccuracy of the coverage of the incident, so I thought I would share my experience of it, to try and give a more realistic account of what happened and why it happened.

One thing that interests me is the use of the phrase 'Peaceful protest.' The protest was in reality anything but peaceful. It was loud. It was raucous. Thousands of angry people had come to make their voices heard, and we were shouting at the tops of our voices about how we do not find the proposed education cuts acceptable. It was not a peaceful protest. It was simply a controlled one. Until we got to Millbank that is.

How I ended up in Millbank (for those who don't know, the Millbank complex is basically Conservative HQ) was simply by following those who were in front of me. The march had been permitted to pass Millbank and me and a couple of mates followed the people in front of us into the grounds just because we thought that's where we were supposed to be going. (Some people ahead of us were carrying what looked like a person made out of cardboard and other stuff. This, it turns out, was the effigy that was burned outside Millbank Tower and 30 Millbank.) Once we were there and got a handle of what was going on, we wanted to stay there. This was the headquarters of the party that are planning to put these massive cuts (my college stands to lose about 80% of its teaching budget and will effectively be forced to close) into action. This is why so many of us congregated there. These were the people we wanted to hear our noise, our disapproval, our anger, and we shouted it at them as loud as we could. The tabloid headlines of Thursday would seem to want to have you believe that everyone who congregated at Millbank was a mindless thug, but we were all there for a very definite reason.

Now, the violence. I've been thinking for quite a while about how to write this. I think I'll just have to write it as it comes to me. Sorry if it rambles and doesn't make too much sense.

It started to become clear that something was going to happen when a few people started setting fire to their placards. It wasn't what started the trouble, but it did seem to coincide with the anger of the crowd turning into action. Police officers were blocking the entrance to 30 Millbank after some people had rushed the doors and got in. This meant that they were stuck inside. Some news reports have said that this was when the vandalism inside 30 Millbank started. That's not really the case though. At that stage it was more like when people walked into the Vodafone stores to protest against their tax evasion. They seemed to just be concerned with making things difficult simply by being there.

Anyway, a few people started to throw things and as more people came into the complex, more people were pushed up to the police line, which is when they first raised their batons at the crowd. By now the people setting fire to their signs were putting them on the fire remaining from the effigy and creating a small bonfire. The shouting was getting louder and angrier. More things were being thrown. The area outside Millbank Tower and 30 Millbank was filling up with smoke. Then riot police turned up. Then people started to try and break the windows of 30 Millbank. At some point a drumming group turned up and got people dancing. All of this going on at once in such a small area created a truly incredible and addictive atmosphere. It was exhilarating just being there watching all of this happen. That may sound weird, but it really was something that was easy to get caught up in.

At some point it actually started to get a bit scary and I decided to force my way out (I had been pretty much trapped in there by the sheer number of people) of the Millbank complex and go next to the river by the other side of the road. From there I watched the windows of 30 Millbank get smashed and more people getting inside the building (which is when the vandalism inside the building really started). I watched as a group of police officers trying to reinforce the police line were bombarded by people until they had to turn back and retreat. I didn't see the fire extinguisher being thrown/dropped from the top of the building, but a friend of mine did and said it was pretty terrifying.

I'm amazed it didn't get worse. When it became apparent that the protesters were effectively had the power in this situation and that there was no way the police would be able to control the those who were in the complex was when things got bad, but they could've got a Hell of a lot worse.

I feel that the violence of the day has been somewhat misrepresented. Yes, it was a comparatively very small number of people actually being violent, but they were being egged on by a good couple of thousand people. Few may have done the action, but believe me, many more than that really wanted it to happen.

I'm also not sure how to take the claims I've seen that anarchist groups like The Babylon are to blame for what happened. Firstly, I can't help but think that it would've been worse if there were. Secondly, in a way I think it's an attempt to undermine the whole incident. Chalk it up to anarchists and let's get on with it. If it's anarchists then it's just violence the sake of violence and you don't actually need to consider why there was violence. From my perspective, a lot of people were very angry and wanted to act on that.

My opinion is that this was inevitable. You have the Conservative party, who've always been seen as just be a party of the rich and for the rich, in a coalition with the Liberal Democrats who've been seemingly far too ready to turn their backs on their pre-election pledges and policies when given a whiff of power and are suddenly ready to tow the tory line. This is already a government that has left a lot of the people who voted for it feeling massively let down. Now add to that the bold moves of raising tuition fees to triple the amount and slashing teaching budgets (cutting budgets entirely in some subjects it would seem) and you are going to make a lot of people very angry. They seem to have underestimated how much people really care about education in this country. The protest on Wednesday was about showing that we will not lie down and let ourselves be walked over. With a march of this kind being allowed to go past Millbank, well, what did they expect was going to happen? People are furious and some will act upon that fury if given the opportunity. That is an inevitability.

A point one of my tutors raised today: How was it that this march was allowed to go past Millbank in the first place? How was that authorised with as little police presence as there was?

I'm still not entirely sure if I'm for or against what happened. Either way, one thing I am certain of is that, no matter what news outlets might tell you, it was absolutely not mindless. It was not petty or pointless. It served a purpose. That purpose was to forcefully underline that people will not stand for what the powers that be are trying to force upon them and if you try to make them, they will fight back.

There will almost certainly be more demonstartions against the proposed Government cuts. People will protest against the cuts they see as being unfair. This time it was actually pretty lucky there was as little violence as there was. It could've been a lot worse. A LOT worse. This was a bunch of students who still have a chance at something. Wait til you have a massive group of people who feel like they have nothing to lose and are at the end of their tether. Then see what happens.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Yoof Night: Some Bands And That (Including Chad Valley). 6th November 2010.

I took a rather hefty knock to the head on Thursday and still have a headache from it today. Admittedly today is the first day that it hasn't been that bad, it's mellowed out to just a dull murmur of a headache, but on Saturday it was still in full pounding, mood altering swing (I was really grumpy for about three days), so I really wasn't in the mood for a gig, but I really wanted to see Chad Valley again coz he's fucking ace. Oh, and I wasn't drinking either because I was having a week off booze due to the fact that after a particularly heavy 2-3 weeks it kind of felt like my internal organs had started to shut down. So I couldn't even drink myself into a better mood like I would normally do. So tonight was pretty much always going to lose.

The first band, Sissy & The Blisters, weren't bad, but I think they might be used to playing to a more appreciative and involved audience than the average Oxford gig crowd. They looked a little perplexed at times to be playing to room of people standing virtually still while they threw all their energy into a set of fairly loud rock music that sounds like a bunch of bands I can't think of now. I felt sorry for them. A room with a bit more response might have created a bit of chemistry between band and audience that might have elevated them somewhat. As it was the front man's energy in throwing himself around made his shapes look awkward, but I'm not sure that's his fault. I found him annoying, but then that night I was finding pretty much everything annoying.

The guy who's bag kept hitting me as he swayed to Chad Valley was annoying. The couple playing face hockey at the bar were annoying. The fact that my ex-girlfriend was there was annoying. Pretty much everything anyone said was annoying. All these things that would either not normally bother me or that I could do something about by, you know, just moving or something, were just really getting on my tits. I'm pretty sure in hindsight that I was still suffering the effects of concussion that night, as this is what tends to happen to my mood just after I've had or am at the end of concussion. Thinking about it, I've had concussion quite a lot. Maybe that's why my memory is starting to get so bad and why I keep mixing up my words or not being able to think of particular words I want to say even though I know I know them. Years of head battery have caught up with me. I really should be more careful.

The fact that NO-ONE was dancing to Chad Valley, now THAT was genuinely annoying. If there was one thing that was gonna get me out of that funk, it would've been having a good old dance to Chad Valley. People were swaying and bobbing their heads and that, but no-one was GETTING DOWN. I was disappointed by that. The only person I saw who clearly wanted to dance was someone I met for the first time and very briefly at that Blessing Force party, which was frustrating because if I'd known them a bit better I would've grabbed their arm and gone "COME ON, LET'S HAVE A PROPER FUCKING DANCE!!" but that would've probably just freaked them out quite a lot, so I didn't. Instead I stood too still and got hit by that swayer's bag quite a lot. While bobbing my head and that.
Then, during Chad Valley's last song, suddenly everyone started dancing! What with that? "Oh yes, we'll dance to the last song because that shows we've had a good time, but we can't possibly physically exert ourselves otherwise." You bunch of bastards.
Chad Valley was of course awesome. You don't need me to tell you that again.

I left halfway thru the headline band, Fiction, because I found them boring and I'd had enough of the night to be honest. Stupid concussion, ruining my night. If I ever meet concussion, I'm gonna kick it really hard in it's goolies.

Yet Another Open Letter To The General Public Based On Yet Another Weekend Working In Retail.

Dear general public,

Three things:

#1. Don't be surprised if I can't help you to find what You're after if you come up to me and say something like:
"Hi. I'm looking for a flm but I can't remember what it's called. All I know is that there is a tree in the picture on the cover."

#2. If you say something like, "I've looked everywhere mate, and I can't find Kenny G at all. Do you not have him?" to which I say, "Kenny G's in the jazz section over here." and you're response is, "Oh, I didn't think to look there." then you haven't looked everywhere. Stop trying to portray yourself as some kind of retail martyr. It's tedious.

#3. Believe it or not, I am fully aware of how hot the basement I work in is and I don't need EVERY SINGLE FUCKING ONE OF YOU to make a comment about it. Seriously. It's fucking infuriating, so stop it. Stop it now.

Overheard Today.

Man 1: "Do you wanna hear a joke?"
Man 2: "Yeah, alright."
Man 1: "Okay. What do you call a Scottish terrorist group."
Man 2: "Dunno. What?"
Man 1: "Och Aye-da."
Man 2 gives the kind of nervous half laugh you give when you really don't find a joke funny but don't want to disappoint your friend by letting them know they've just told a really fucking terrible joke.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Another Day Of Axl Foolishness.

Tuesday was not the most fun day in the world. I was feeling very out of sorts, which I blame on, well, something. Booze withdrawal maybe, I don't know. I've stopped drinking for a bit as I was drinking far too much and I started to feel like my body was shutting down. Yeah, that's what I'll blame it on.
Anyway, I did a couple of really dumb things. I called my mate Charlie 'Rachel' even though I know that's not her name. I know Rachel's not her name, as this is at least the third time this has happened. I think this means she is now legally obliged to think I am a total dick and slag me off to all her friends. Sigh.
I ordered pizzas for me and Gen from Mario's and when the guy told me the price of the pizzas I thought "That seems a bit much, oh well, maybe their prices have gone up or something." When I got my pizzas, it turned out I had somehow accidentally ordered three instead of two. I was so embarrassed that I just paid for them and took them. As I was going home I suddenly had this 'Hang on, what the fuck just happened?' moments as I realised what I'd just done. My brain was working very slowly that day, so it did take this long for me to question it.
I'm sure there was a third really stupid thing I did, but I can't remember it now.
I do remember being followed part of the way home by a some guy who stopped me in the street while I was on the phone and was annoyed that I wouldn't stand with him until I finished my conversation to find out what he wanted to say to me. He gave up after about a minute. He was a prick.

Yeah, Tuesday was pretty rubbish really.


So yeah. After my whole 'Oooh, must write on here more often blah blah blah,' business, which I kept up pretty well, I haven't posted for a week now, which feels like a long time now. Basically I've actually been busy with things, things like college and projects and things.
So, what's happened?
Well, Saturday was interesting. I went to see Fixers and Rhosyn at the Modern Art Museum in Oxford (or MAO as they like to call themselves). Rhosyn was good. A string quartet who do songs rather than classical pieces. The originals are good, clearly they know how to write with a subtlety appropriate to their set-up and they know what works dynamically very well (wow, that sounds really wanky), and their covers lack any whiff of novelty and are handled very well. Good stuff. Apparently they normally have a drummer too, but for noise restrictions or something he couldn't play with them tonight.
Those restrictions are the same reason that Jack from Fixers ended up doing a set that consisted mostly of him doing karaoke. James Bond themes and other 80's songs, with a karaoke version of Fixers 'Amsterdam' stuck in the middle. It splits opinion. Some people find it funny that he's doing a karaoke set to a crowd of 'scenesters', others find it tedious (one person walked past me saying 'He's taking the piss. I'm going.'). He then followed that with about 3 or 4 songs solo on a very nice sounding organ that I can't remember the name of.
Oh, the basement of MAO really needs some better air conditioning.

Then after brief pubbage, me and a couple of mates went to the Hospitality night at the Regal.
It's been a while since I've been to a drum 'n' bass night and I was looking forward to having a good old mental dance for a couple of/few hours. Two problems though. One: The soundguy had no idea what he was doing and created a painfully bass heavy sludge of sound that was almost impossible to listen to, let alone actually enjoy. Two: I had forgotten that drum 'n' bass nights are mostly populated by chavs, and the ones who aren't chavs tend to be arseholes. Seriously, why do most drum 'n' bass fans seem to be total dickheads?
I was at the bar, waiting for bloody ages, as was everyone else, and these two started kicking off. One was a chav, one was wearing a shirt and had a stupid haircut. This guy had obviously said something that the chav didn't like because he was trying to intimidate the shirt guy, who instead of being intimidated or just ignoring him, was being really patronising. When the chav finally got his drink and was walking off, shirt said "See you outside, yeah?" to which chav decided to throw the drink he'd been waiting at least 15 minutes for at shirt's head (It's a bloody good job they only use plastic glasses at the Regal). Chav got chucked out by security. It wasn't over for shirt though. Some slightly trampy looking guy behind him had got some of the thrown drink on him, and so started having a go at shirt for it. It was about to kick off again, so shirt decided to give trampy one of the 16 shots of tequila he was buying (seriously, no exaggeration, he was actually buying 16 shots of tequila). Suddenly they were best mates and shirt was 'alright, actually.'
High Contrast was alright, would've been nice to have been able to hear it properly, and we had some dancing fun, then Danny Byrd was alright too, until he started doing that 'rewind' thing which I just find tedious. 'Hey, I know what would be a good idea. I'll stop this track just as everyone's getting into it and then start it again from the beginning.' Let it flow, damnit! It's as if certain dj's don't have faith in what they're playing anymore so have to try and force some enthusiasm. It's the equivalent of holding a sweet just out of a child's reach and saying 'Do you want this sweet? Do you want this sweet? Huh? Do you? Do you want this do you?' Dear dj's, please please PLEASE stop doing this. It's annoying and stupid.
So annoying that me and my friends left.
And we all had headaches due to that dreadful soundman.

Friday, 29 October 2010


So I haven't posted for a few days. Sorry about that. Here are the reasons for that.
* Been sorting out my student loan.
* Had a meeting with Blessing Force and helped to set up a house for a party.
* Finishing poems for another performance I did at Betsy Trotwood last night.
* Going to the house party (at which Pet Moon, Chad Valley, Jonquil and Jack from Fixers all played very good sets), dancing and getting far too drunk. It was a pretty epic party. Oh, and a journalist was there from NME covering it along with a photographer who took a big old Blessing Force group photo (which I'm in!) AND a journo and cameraman from Vice TV were there to cover it too. We all put on our best of party behaviour for them.
* The party left me hideously hungover for the whole of yesterday.
* I had to go to London yesterday for above mentioned Betsy Trotwood performance. I had to finish two of the poems on the coach and was late due to two accidents on the M40 and of course, I was still hungover. I thought it went badly, but seemingly no-one else did. Massive compliments from everyone and I'm doing next months too.

I am still hungover from the party. I haven't had a two day hangover since I stopped drinking vodka. I'd forgotten just how truly unpleasant they are.

I'm sure I had more to say but I can't remember it now.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

I Can Haz Tumblr?

I was thinking recently that it might be a good idea to have a separate place to put up my scraps of writing and everyone seems to be getting a tumblr these days, so I thought I’d try it out.
So, the plan is that this will be where I keep some of my creative writing bits and bobs. Poems, etc, and all that. I decided it might be a good idea to keep this stuff separate from my personal blog. I’m not entirely sure why I thought that, but I did, so here : paulaskew.tumblr.com : is my new, other blog.
My personal blog still lives here and will still have all of my pointless ramblings posted onto it, so don't you worry about that.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Another Little Bit Of Truck.

There are a couple of really awkward "Oooh, I'd better act along to this a bit" moments in this one. I don't do that anymore. I learned from that mistake.

Pet Moon/Trophy Wife/Braindead Collective, Bullingdon Arms, Oxford, 24/10/10.

It's been a while since I wrote a gig review on here and the gig I went to last night was fucking awesome, so I'm gonna write about it. Even though I've already told you how great it was. If you don't want to read a clumsily written, wanky, fairly sycophantic gig review, you can pretty much stop here.

Normally when I'm enjoying a band and someone keeps telling me how rubbish they are, it really annoys me. Fine, I get it, you don't like them. Now can you shut up and let me enjoy this please? However, the level of hatred my girlfriends sister had for Braindead Collective was hilarious. I have rarely seen someone enjoy something so little while being so amusing. At one point she said something like "It's like having really fucking noisy worms in my ears playing random scat-jazz."
I really liked them. They reminded me of this band called Fraud. Fraud released this really good and slightly mental sounding free-jazz/funk/punk album a while back and won massive acclaim, especially for their live shows, and a load of Jazz awards, then just kind of disappeared. Apparently they haven't officially split up, they just do other things at the moment. Anyway, Braindead Collective reminded me of Fraud, and I really like Fraud, so I got pretty into BC's locked groove jazz noodling (is "locked groove jazz noodling" a massive contradiction? Well, I can't think of a better way to describe it, so that'll have to do), even with the running "They're fucking awful" commentary coming from others. It's inevitable really that this style of music will split opinion, especially in a crowd that haven't come to see that kind of thing. Well, I liked it, so there.

Trophy Wife pull off a trick of sounding like a lot of bits of other bands while not sounding enough like any of them to make you think "Oh, they're just another so-and-so." So you get elements of, oh bloody Hell, I had a list in my mind of all of them last night and I can't remember them now. Hang on, that's a good thing. Trophy Wife aren't a band that should be watered down to comparisons as in their own right they were pretty bloody good. Decent guitar pop songs on the slightly mellower side of "math" (whatever the fuck that means now, I only use it as it's a tag that people recognise) with a nice 80's vibe to them. And the drummer (appropriately named Kit) looked like he was having the best time of his life. Good stuff. Definitely worth keeping an ear on.

Ah, Pet Moon. I think I read somewhere that Pet Moon is like a white electro indie rock take on R&B, or maybe I said that and wish I hadn't. As a sentence, it's very on the side of wanky, and its also not wholly accurate. There is a definite R&B influence on some of those beat constructions, and there is an indie tone to the vocals and delivery, but to simmer it gently on a low heat down into that as a pigeonhole statement does what this music actually is a disservice (although at some point I guarantee someone will say/write that Andrew Mears is or has become a singer songwriter for the post-dubstep generation. Eurgh, music journalists...). These are well thought out, meticulously crafted songs that are just themselves rather than being of a style per se.
For a first gig, this is remarkably on it and together. I don't think I've ever seen a better debut performance. As a starting point they really couldn't have done much better. Very little could be criticised (who's gonna niggle over a couple of technical problems, really?) and it will be very interesting and exciting to see where this goes. Great songs, great show, great third thing I can't think of right now (coz these things have to be done in threes, OBVIOUSLY. I mean, like, durrrrrr). Yeah, Pet Moon = Fucking Great.

Yeah, now I remember why I stopped writing gig reviews. I'm not very good at them.

Friday, 22 October 2010


Today I was walking to my Mum's and I was walking near two men. There was a woman walking ahead of them. One of them was talking on the phone. A few seconds after he finished his phone conversation, he looked at the woman then turned to his mate and said:

"Aw mate, that is givin' me a trouser tent, that."

Yes, he really did.

I know.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Open Letter.

Dear Bruce Springsteen,

My bum is better than yours.

With Sympathies,


Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Dear Cafés.

When I come to you to buy a hot drink, amazingly enough I am actually expecting it to be hot so I don't need you to tell me to 'Be careful, it's hot.'

Seriously, do we REALLY need to be told that hot things are hot so we don't burn our mouths? I mean, I know I'm not always very complimentary about the general public at times, but that's just venting of frustration. I refuse to believe that the general public actually are THAT stupid.

Monday, 18 October 2010


Ribena berry berry very very nice yes.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Oxford's About To Take Off.

Check it: http://blessingforce.tumblr.com/

"ISA ISA Baby."

If I worked for a radio station and was doing some kind of live advert for a bank/building society/whatever the fuck Halifax actually is, and someone suddenly brought up Vanilla Ice's "Ice Ice Baby" and started singing "ISA ISA baby" over it, I would fucking punch them in the mouth, not look like a smug fucking prick.
When that song came out, I was 9 years old. I came up with a version that went "Ice ice baby, never get lazy, or you'll have a baby with the town's Miss Lady." That nonsensical, juvenile shite has more value than that fucking Halifax advert. THAT'S HOW BAD IT IS.

ISA ISA baby can just fuck fucking off.

If you like that advert, or any of the Halifax 'radio station' adverts, then you are a fucking idiot.

Now, if you need cheering up after that rant, go and check out Hatebeak. A heavy metal band whose vocalist is a parrot. http://www.myspace.com/beak666 Now THAT'S funny.

Thursday, 14 October 2010


Today I saw a friend of mine across the street and waved at her.
She didn't wave back.
'How dare she ignore me,' I thought and made my wave more exaggerated. She would have to wave back now.
She did.
Then I realised it wasn't my friend, but a very similar looking woman. Except this one looked a little bit freaked out.


Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Happy Birthday To Crisps.

Yesterday evening I was in a pub for a friends birthday and I decided I would sing 'Happy Birthday' to their packet of crisps. 'Happy Birthday to crisps / Happy Birthday to crisps / Happy Birthday dear cri-isps / Happy Birthday to crisps.'
Now, when you sing Happy Birthday in a place where drunk people are, some of them will no doubt join in with a cheer and applause that seems to have become customary to do when someone has Happy Birthday sung to them. But I was singing Happy Birthday to a packet of crisps. No-one would applaud that, surely.
Well, actually it seems that no matter what you sing Happy Birthday to, surrounding people are seemingly conditioned into responding to the melody itself. People in the pub who didn't know me were applauding the fact that I sang Happy Birthday. To crisps. They were applauding crisps.
I thought that was quite funny.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Just Checking In.

Saturday was drunken, Sunday was a hangover and Monday I was back at college. I tried to write a post yesterday about a t-shirt I saw that I hated, but time and cider had turned the amusing post I had in mind, into a curmudgeonly rant that just made me seem like a joyless old tosspot, so I deleted it.

I have no idea how to finish this post.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Rapture Comes To Oxford.

No, not the band. Although I did see them play a gig in Oxford and they were awesome. Anyway they've split up now. Or have they got back together now? I remember hearing something like that a few months ago, but I don't know if I believe it. I'd like it to be true tho.


No, the Rapture I'm talking about here is the independent record store in Witney, which is apparently the only independent record store left in all of Oxfordshire. How fucking depressing is that? Anyway, for 3 days they are taking over the old Videosyncratic store and Oxford get an indie for a weekend. I popped along today and I had honestly forgotten how much I love music shopping. It was so nice to be able to do something I used to take for granted years ago. I knew that I miss it, but I didn't realise how much I miss it. It felt really good to be excited by music shopping again. It's kind of ridiculous how good it made me feel. I bought a copy of what they were playing because what I heard of it sounded really good. It's an album by a band called Fool's Gold (no, it doesn't sound anything like The Stone Roses) and I'm really looking forward to giving it a proper listen.

I could go off on one here about memories of music shopping and how I grew up doing it and all that stuff, but that would probably just be really boring for you, so I'll skip that bit.

I find it really depressing that there are no places like that in Oxford anymore, more so after today and the fact that by Monday it'll all be gone again.
Well, thanks anyway Rapture. Thanks for giving me that feeling again. It was awesome.

Hmmm... I just read that over and something about it seems very... odd. Oh well, I mean it and I'm not gonna not post this just because I can't word it right.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

A Poem. Ish.

As a little experiment, I gave myself an hour to write a performance poem. This is what I came up with. It may not read well, but I think I can get it work on stage. Anyway, any feedback any of you have, I would like to hear/read/whatever it.

On The Tube.

Mum, why does the train make so much noise?
Mum, why does the train stop so much?
Mum, are there there four stops left or three?
Mum, are we getting off here?
Mum, why does that man look so grumpy?
Mum, why are those two holding hands?
Mum, can you hear that? It sounds like a guitar. Why is there a guitar playing?
Mum, why is that man singing? He can't sing. He'd be rubbish on the X Factor.
Mum, when I grow up, can I have a farm and drive a tractor?
Mum, can I have a Mars bar?
Mum, why are we getting on another train? I don't want to get on another train.
Mum, why was Daddy so angry this morning? Is it because he hasn't got a job anymore?
Mum, what does Tampax mean? That lady has a box that says Tampax in her bag. What is Tampax, Mum?
Mum, am I going to die one day?
Mum, is that man a lady?
Mum, are pirates real?
Mum, can I have an iPhone? Simon's cousin's got an iPhone. They're really cool. You put your finger on it and things go whoosssshhhh, whoosssshhhh. Can I have one, Mum, can I?
Mum, I'm sure that man is a lady.
Mum, when I grow up I can fly an aeroplane can't I?
Mum, can I have an XBox for Christmas?
Mum, did you know that there's a big telescope that can see everything in space? Do you think they can see our house with it?
Mum, when will Daddy get a new job?
Mum, why do people believe in God?
Mum, why is Simon's Mum younger than you?
Mum, why do cats have claws?
Mum, why are there criminals?
Mum, why do you always make that look?
Mum, Mum, this is you Mum. 'Urgh. Stop asking so many questions Johnathan because I'm really boring and smelly. Blah blah blah blah blah.'

Yes Mum.

Sorry Mum.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

You Think You Know Somewhere...

I was born in Oxford and I've lived here my whole life. The last 22 years or so of that have been in the Cowley Road area, specifically either in or just next to the area with the shops towards the Plain roundabout, so it's safe to say I know the area between the Plain and Howard Street pretty well indeed.
A couple of weeks ago I was walking up St Mary's Road, and saw something I've never noticed before. Right near the corner, as St Mary's Road goes onto Magdalen Road, opposite the convent there, is what is essentially an extended bungalow. (Here endeth the tedious Geography part of the post.) I've walked past this many, many times, but I've never noticed the sign before. The sign that says 'Church Of Christ.'
Now, I can't get this out of my head. This church looks so inconspicuous. It looks like you could fit no more than about 20 people in it. It looks like the kind of place that gets investigated on Dispatches for bizarre and unsound practices, or the sort of church that secretly hides some bonkers American cult or religious offshoot that you'ld see some crazy news story about secret incestuous practices happening there.
I also can't find anything about it on the internet, which just makes me even more curious about it! I really wish I had to guts to take a Sunday off work and just go there one day to see what it's all about. What it's deal is. But I just don't. What if they're insane? What if... Oh just what if?!

I haven't been this curious about a church since the old Spiritualist church just off Cowley Road up by the petrol station. It's not there anymore, well what intrigued me so much about it certainly isn't.
It was such a plain looking building apart from the fact that it used to have a red crucifix at the top ot it, which they would light up at night if a service was on. Again, this really intrigued me. I wanted to know what what going on there, but I was never going to be able to actually go in there through the same fear that keeps me from ever setting foot in the one on St Mary's Road.

But why do I want to? I'm not in any way religious. There is just something that really intrigues me about it. Something about the plain-ness and that unknown fear. I just want to know what is going on there, because it's something I never knew was there in an area I know so well.

What is it?!

UPDATE: No, I didn't go there, it's nothing that exciting, but my Dad got in touch leaving a comment on this post to say that he's found their website! Although this does mean the mystery is somewhat taken away from the place, it's still pretty interesting just to find out a tiny bit more about the place, and for you lot it means you can see the place I'm talking about. Go here http://www.oxfordchurchofchrist.co.uk/index1.html if yer at all interested in seeing what a church that looks like a bungalow is like. I was pleased to see that in the photos section, it does pretty much just look like the inside of someone's house.
So yeah. Thanks Dad!

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

My First Review!

I'm pretty excited because my performance at Edel Assanti has been reviewed. This is my first ever review and guess what? It's pretty good! Here's what it says about me:

"Although poet Paul Askew left his poetry without film, its short, unusual nature made an appropriate opener to the night. 'Crow' was a particular highlight and was delivered with a delicacy that made the obscurity of his imagination truly magical."

That's pretty good, yeah? Go me! Yeah!

Read the whole review (which will tell you why they felt the need to point out that there was no visuals with my performance) here: http://bit.ly/cr0UpZ

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Almost Missed It Today...

...but here I am in the nick of time. Today's post is very short. I recently found a haiku in my bureau that I wrote at Truck festival on the Sunday afternoon. At the time it was fucking hilarious. I publish it here in the knowledge that it won't carry the same sense it did then, and may in fact even come across as pretty lame, but at the time it was perfect.

Tom Cruise.

Tom Cruise falls in love
with a dead duck, fucks it and
takes it to the moon.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

This One's Called 'Things I "Irrationally" Hate.'

Working in a shop makes me really hate a lot of things that I wouldn't normally even give a second thought. Today I decided to note some of those things down as they happened, so I could present them to you in this blog. If you do/are any of these things I've listed, chances are that I hate you.

* People who say 'Amex.'
It's 'American Express' you goons. Abbreviating it to 'Amex' makes you no better than people who say 'Lol' in conversation. Actually no, that's not fair. It makes you far worse, because people who say 'Lol' just say it. People who say 'Amex' say it in a really fucking smug, superior way that makes me want to bash their brains out on the counter. If you say 'Amex' then there is a 95% chance you are an absolute wanker.

* People who chuckle when you give them a penny change.
What? A penny not good enough for you, is it? Is it so beneath you caring that you find a penny ridiculous? Why don't you give it to charity then, hmmm? No, you'ld rather be all smug about it. 'Oh, it's almost not worth me bothering, ha ha ha!' Tosser.

* Daniel O'Donnell fans.
I know that, you know, taste is all subjective and that, but sorry, if you are buying an album buy Daniel O'Donnell then you are in NO position WHATSOEVER to criticise any other music, ESPECIALLY not Bach, you simpleton fuck.

* People who say they need a bag and then put that bag in another bag.
'I'd better, I've got food in there.' What, do you think your cd case is going to somehow penetrate your tins of fois gras and boxes of bruschetta and spoil the flavour? Are your bangers and mash somehow going to be tainted by the plastic wrapping of an album? NO! THEY'RE NOT! GROW UP, YOU FUCKING IDIOTS! HAVE YOU HEARD OF A LITTLE SOMETHING CALLED 'THE ENVIRONMENT'?! STOP BEING A TOTAL DICKHEAD!

* People who say something as a statement when they mean it as a question.
It has somehow become acceptable for people to ask questions without asking them. For example, someone came in the shop today and said 'Frank Sinatra.' That was their way of asking either if we have any Frank Sinatra cd's or where would our Frank Sinatra cd's be. This is how so many people enquire about things. Do they ask all questions like this? Do they stop people in the street and just say 'Time', 'Lighter' or 'Magdalen Road'? No, if they wanted any of those things from strangers, they would at least word it in the form of a question, not just disrespectfully bark out what they want and expect that person to bend over backwards to help them. But of course, I work in a shop, so it's somehow acceptable for me to treated with as much respect as something they just trod in. THIS IS NOT ON. It shows a fundamental lack of human respect. Make no mistake, IF YOU DO THIS, YOU ARE A CUNT. YOU ARE A CUNT AND YOU DESERVE TO DIE A VERY SLOW AND PAINFUL DEATH BY HAVING YOUR INSIDES PULLED OUT OF YOUR ARSEHOLE, YOU TOTAL, UTTER CUNT.

A-hem. Sorry about that. Actually no. I'm not.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Just Another Quickie.

Last night went really well. Gonna blog about it soon. Maybe tomorrow.
Going to see Plaid play at the Oxford Playhouse tonight with the Southbank Gamelan Musicians. I'm really excited coz I've been a fan of Plaid for about 10 years now and have never seen them live.
I've also wanted to see some Gamelan musicians live for a while too, pretty much since I first found out about it. I love percussion and percussive instruments. Gamelan is the sort of thing that's right up my street.
So yeah. Tonight should be fucking awesome.

Also, See Tickets are bastards. They sent me an e-mail asking me to phone them and when I did I was on hold for over half an hour (at 10p a minute) and didn't end up speaking to anyone. That's over three pounds I've spent on being dicked around. Thanks See Tickets, you bastards.

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Just A Quickie.

I'm off to London in a mo for a little gig I will be doing.
This is the picture they are using to promote it.
I think it's pretty cool.
It's at a place called The Betsy Trotwood. I've never been there.
I'm doing an about 15-20 minute set of my poetry.
I'm pretty excited as last time I did a gig in London, it was the best performance I've done yet.
The theme for the evening is 'Hippies Vs Beatniks.'
Sweet G is trying to convince me to wear a suit.
Hmmm... We'll see.
One of the other acts is a guy called Emit Bloch who recorded his whole album on a dictaphone.
I thought it was pretty good. I'm looking forward to seeing him live.
Anyway, must go. Want to shower and make myself delicious.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

"The Suburbs" or Me & Arcade Fire Down By The Schoolyard.

As some of you may already know, I've never been the worlds biggest Arcade Fire fan. Almost everyone I know seemed to gush themselves dry over 'Funeral' and 'Neon Bible' and I never really understood it. All I heard was bad sixth form poetry over the type of epic, bombastic music that always used to put me off listening to most English classical composers. I always just found it massively off-putting. It felt to me like they just all crashed in at once with huge sounding choruses to mask the fact that their songs weren't actually very good.

Then, this year, they released their third album. 'The Suburbs.'

I read reviews saying that it was a change of direction of sorts. That it was a toned down version of Arcade Fire. That by taking the subject matter of often ignored suburban areas (of America/Canada), they had ditched the bombast and created a more personal and involving album. Everything I read got me intrigued. I thought I'd give it a listen to see what it was like.

I love it.

I suspected I thought it would be good, judging from what I'd read about it, but I wasn't expecting to love it quite so much. The reviews were right. Gone is all the pomp and instead we have a very human sound. Songs you can relate to. Songs that invite you into them. Songs that make me start writing really pretentious sounding things about them.

Yes, I never thought I would say this, but the new Arcade Fire album is absolutely brilliant.

I said this to a couple of workmates who've always been big Arcade Fire fans and they both said the same thing. They can't get into it and they find it a bit boring. No offence to them, but this kind of backs up why I like it so much, because it doesn't sound like Arcade Fire. It sounds like like a fucking great band who've made a really REALLY good album.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Part 2 Of My Performance At Truck.

Beware The Half Moon.

The Half Moon in St Clements, Oxford, is one of those pubs that looks like a bit of a dive from the outside, but is actually pretty nice once you're inside. As a pub I like the Half Moon.
There is something very strange about it.
Being in there has a weird effect on me.

Now, most people who know me will be able to tell you that I am quite often pretty socially awkward. Introduce me to a new person and I usually have no idea how to have a conversation with them. Put me in a situation with people I don't know and I will be the odd little man who doesn't say anything, stares at inanimate objects for hours until someone asks, "Are you alright?"
Yes, as I'm sure I have said many times on this blog before, I am pretty much socially retarded.
Apart from when I'm in the Half Moon.

See, when I'm in the Half Moon, it's like I become possessed by the demons of socialising.
I ended up in there again on Thursday after a (very good) meal at a mates house. Now, last time I was in the Half Moon I ended up ignoring the people I'd gone there with to talk for ages to this German guy who said he had very few friends in Oxford. After a couple of hours talking about about I don't remember what, I gave him my phone number and said we should hang out and that I would come to the Half Moon a lot more. The next morning I instantly wished I hadn't, which turned out to be okay because he never got in touch.
But what was I doing? I not only have no idea what we had been talking about, but I NEVER give out out my number to people I've only just met. If people think I'm awkward in person, they should hear me on the phone. It's painful.
That is the power of the Half Moon. It seems to remove my inhibitions and turn me into a social person somehow.
But it wasn't all that bad. I mean, at least this German guy was a pretty nice, decent person.

On Thursday tho, oh dear.

I somehow started to talk to these two American guys. It started off nice enough, you know, they were asking where I come from, I was born in Oxford, oh so you're local then, yeah, nice, so where are you guys from, oh we're from DC, etc, etc, etc...
They were at college in Washington, one of them was a "Frat boy."
Then we started talking about alcohol. Apparently, and contrary to what I believed, you CAN get cider in America, but it's not very popular and if you are seen drinking it people think you're a "Fag." Spirits are more widely available of course, but if you drink them in a bar instead of beer, people think you're a "Fag." Basically if you drink anything other than beer in public, you're a "Fag."
Then they asked me for tips on how to "Pull British chicks."

Now, normally I would have made some excuse like "Oh, I'm really not the guy to ask about that. I have to get back to my friends," but after hearing them tell how they "Pull chicks" back home and because I was drunk in the Half Moon, I had entered this frame of mind where I suddenly thought to myself "You know, these guys actually seem alright. Sure, they have a pretty unsound view of women and use the word "Fag" far too much, but maybe I can change that! Maybe if I talk to them in a way they understand, I can make them see the errors of their ways and get them to respect other people more!"
So I started to say things like, "You know, what you guys do in America won't necessary work over here. You have to treat women with a bit more respect." Although I probably worded it in an even more patronising way, and probably a bit more of a sexist way too, coz y'know, I was trying to change their minds on their level and that.
"So, what you're saying is I need to treat women as if they're like they're equal?"
Now, what do you say to that? Seriously, if I had just been blunt and said "Now look, there are a number of things wrong with what you just said..." they would've either got that glazed over look in their eyes, or they would've called me a fag, which I would've pulled them up on, an argument would've ensued and they would've probably decided I needed to be taught a lesson (and one of them was fucking muscly, so I didn't want him trying to). So I tried to carry on with the whole talk-to-them-on-their-level thing, which lead to me saying something that made Genevieve leave the pub when she heard me say it.
I had clearly lost the point and turned into some sort of hideous sexist, but I wasn't willing to give up just yet. In a flash of inspiration, I gave them my e-mail address and told them we should hang out more and they should totally message me and we'll go for a drink and talk more about stuff.

Friday morning, pretty much the first thought that came into my head was, "Why was I talking so much to those guys and why did I give them my e-mail address?!"
Luckily, they haven't messaged me and without wanting to sound too harsh, I really hope they don't. I don't think they will. I'm pretty sure the frat boy thinks I'm a fag (he didn't like it when I hugged the muscly one as a goodbye and was happy that I only gave him the half handshake, half hug thing that you see guys doing on tv, saying he felt "Much more comfortable with that. I'm not comfortable with guys hugging me.") and won't want to meet up again, and the muscly one is hopefully one of those guys who's all talk but won't actually have any intention of getting back in touch, instead relegating me to a story about "This weird English guy I met in a bar once."
Having said that tho, a certain part of me now having written about them, kind of wants to meet up with them again to see what would happen.

I'm sure that's a bad idea tho. Isn't it?

Monday, 27 September 2010

Right. Time To Get Serious.

So, I'm a writer, right?
Because I never actually bloody write anymore. This is a serious impediment to someone who wants to one day write for a living.
See, I've become one of those really boring people who spends far too much free time on the internet doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.
So, time to properly resurrect this blog. This will actually get me writing something for a change. Also, I've written a bit more on here recently and have been enjoying it again.
Now, I know I've made bold statements on here before, and I know how broken-record this is going to sound, but here goes.

From today onwards, I intend to post something on here everyday.

See, on days that I write on here, I've found that I actually use the rest of the time in my day more productively. My brain seems to go into a 'Oh, I've just done something! What else can I do?' mode.
At least, this is the theory.
In about a week or two's time when I'm back to being an internet slug, you can all say 'I told you so,' because I know that what few regular readers I still have left will have got bored of me saying/doing stuff like this.
But, if in a week or two's time I'm still writing stuff on a much more regular basis, maybe it'll kick start my other writing into gear. That's what I'm hoping for anyway and I SERIOUSLY need to start doing some actual fucking writing again.

Either way, let's see what happens.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Part 1 Of My Performance At Truck.

I've been meaning to put this up for a while now and FINALLY got round to doing it last night. I'm gonna put the other parts (I'll probably split the whole thing into 4) up over the next couple-few weeks too. As you can tell, I'm was pretty nervous and it took me a while to get into it, but I'm still pretty proud of what I did. I hope you enjoy it.

The Failed Pope Post.

I kept trying to write a blog post about the Pope's visit, but everytime I tried to write it, it either came across as too preachy and self-righteous, or just very dull, so here are some points that sum up the Pope's visit to the UK.

* What is the point of having a bulletproof car if you still have to have 8 security guards walking alongside it?
* I found the backlash against people opposed to the Pope and his visit from the people who didn't care one way or the other about it to be rather worrying. (What, we're expected to have this thing shoved in our faces all day every day and NOT react to it?)
* Constant, continual news coverage is kind of killing the quality of tv journalism. (I think Charlie Brooker has already well and truly covered that point much better than I ever could tho.)
* Some people said some stupid things.
* I cannot take the word "Popemobile" seriously.
* On the subject of the Popemobile, didn't it look and move like a massive motorised wheelchair?

* Some people said some really stupid things. One particularly stupid thing I copied and pasted from I can't remember where read, "I can't help but think it's the protestors who are the real bigots, not the pope. "thou shalt not have a different view to mine"=hypocrisy" which managed to give an opinion on the protestors while entirely missing every single point of the protests themselves. Now that takes some kind of Fox News style skill in the art of complacency.
* Fuck off, Pope.

There. A far, far less coherent post than it would've been, but one that can now have a little pin placed in it for the Potato Farm to move on from.

...and the next post will be something I hope you will all enjoy.

Monday, 13 September 2010

This Is The 400th Potato Farm Post.

Oh yeah.
No bold statements of intent to mark the occasion this time, as I never keep to them.
No out of the ordinary item or quirky thing, as I'm at milady's Mum's house and I can't really think of anything special to do for it anyway, but I don't want to lose the new found momentum I've regained with writing this blog.

However, today I found out that Hannah Simpson aka Cakeyvoice:- http://electricbiscuitonline.blogspot.com/ , who is also by the way the lady responsible for me even having a blog in the first place, gave birth to a boy, so my 400th post is a soppy sentimental wish of a happy and healthy life for Frank Vincent Lewis. His parents are awesome, in fact Matt Lewis, Frank's dad, is responsible for what is considered by many (myself included) to be the best post ever posted on this blog:- http://axlspotatofarm.blogspot.com/2007/11/blog-post.html , so this is bound to be one pretty awesome dude.

Happy Birth, Frank Vincent Lewis.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

The Other Day...

...I heard someone knocking at my front door. I opened it to see a man with a cardboard box that had a collection of change in it.

Man At Door: "Would you be interested in donating to charity, yes or no?
Me: "Errrrrrrrrrrrr..."
MAD: "I'm collecting for a children's charity. If you have any change even just one or two pounds, it would be very much appreciated."
Me: "Errrr... Let me see what I've got."
I opened my little change purse to find I had 62p. I took it out.
"I've got 62p. You can have that."
MAD: "No, keep it. Keep it for if you are out and you need it for parking or something."

Now, there are a few things that strike me as odd about this. One is the fact that his cardboard box just had "COLLECTION FOR CHILDRENS CHARITY" written on it in a marker pen. Another is that he didn't tell me what the charity was or what it did, but most of all, what I find most odd about the whole thing, is that in spite of all this really quite dodgy stuff, I was willing to give him money, and he refused to take it! Now, I don't know about any of you, but whenever I've dealt with people collecting change for charity, they will take whatever you can give them and are generally pretty happy that you're willing to give anything at all in the first place. I have never had a donation of change turned down because it wasn't enough.

So, what the Hell is with that? Anybody? Something dodgy going on, or is he just a very odd man?

Friday, 10 September 2010

Derren Brown's 'Hero At 30,000 Feet' Programme.

WARNING: This post is VERY boring.

Did anyone see this? I'm sure it's on 4OD if you wanted to but missed it.
Anyway, if you didn't, Derren Brown took a very shy man who wouldn't say anything if there was a fire in a room because he wouldn't want to be the one to bring attention to a situation, and over the space of thirty days turned him into a man full of confidence who offered to help land an aeroplane.
Now, there's been some backlash against this programme. People have been saying on Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc, that the show wasn't real. It couldn't be. It was so unconvincing and badly acted, they said. Someone (I'm pretty sure it was Andrew Collins) even cited the music they chose to soundtrack certain parts of the show as a reason it couldn't be real. Now, whatever your opinion of it, you cannot cite bad soundtracking (and some of it really was terrible) as a reason to believe something is fake. Bad acting, yes. Bad music choices, no.
The one scene that seems to be cited as sure-fire proof tho, is the train tracks scene. In this scene, Derren Brown puts his volunteer into a straightjacket, gets him to lie down on some train tracks and then ties up his legs, just as a train is about to come. He then offers little help to the guy to get himself free, but this guy doesn't really seem to be panicking that much. He seems to be a bit startled and worried, kind of like if a vicious dog was barking at him and trying to bite him but was still firmly on a lead, but not really anything approaching panic.
Now, is this bad acting, or is it just that maybe people just sometimes react to things in ways we wouldn't expect? Is it bad acting, or is it that in fact, there are so many individuals that surely there can never be a standard way of responding to any situation no matter how intense or grave?
Anyway, back to Andrew Collins again, his problem with the train tracks scene seems to be that he just doesn't believe that there is any way that Derren Brown would be allowed to do this (I'm filling in the blanks here. He hasn't explicitly said that this is his problem with it.). Now, this is an interesting point. Would a tv programme ever be allowed to take a member of the public and put them in such a position of danger?

I could go on biting into the details of this programme, but it just be me repeating myself agiagn and again. It all just boils down to whether you believe it or not.

Personally, I think Derren Brown is far too intelligent to drop the ball like this, but there are some bits that just don't seem right.
Now, my theory is that if this whole thing was staged, it was staged to act as a trigger. At the end of the programme, Derren said it was time for someone else's journey to start and started a clock to count down from thirty days. I reckon that there could be another show coming up telling about how people who've watched this programme have had their own experiences of changing something in their lives over the course of thirty days, starting from the day this show was broadcast.
Though, writing that and reading it back, it does seem a little far-fetched.
Maybe it is all real and just because of the way it was presented, or because of the high profile Derren Brown has now, people just want to not believe in it, want to pick it apart, want to find fault in it.

One thing is for sure. This programme has got a lot of people talking about it and thinking about it. So no matter what this show was, it has been very clever in the way that it has got into people's heads.

Derren Brown, you're in all our heads, aren't you, you little bighter.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Deal Or No Deal.

I hope this series of 'Deal Or No Deal' is shorter than the last one.

When Deal Or No Deal started, I found it really interesting. I really liked watching the way people dealt with odds and how they decided to play them. It used to come across as a form of extreme gambling at times, as people were faced with cold, hard decisions they didn't know how to make.
Then somewhere along the line, a dirty word started to become involed.
Suddenly, the numbers had meaning. Personal association came into play. The programme became less about a person's decision making process and more about personal spiritual journeys.
Then it got really creepy. It started turning into a televised cult where everyone would hold hands and try to send positive energy into an almost empty box.
Luckily, before the series got into everyone drinking poisoned kool-aid or going on a murderous rampage, someone saw sense and decided the series must have a little break. Put Noel Edmonds in an ice bath before he exploded and let every one of his disciples some time to calm down.
Now it's back, and while it's certainly better for having had it's cooling off period (on a serious note, during one of the episodes where they were doing the 'everyone hold hands and send out positive energy' thing, I actually thought they were going to start chanting), it still seems to have calmed down. Noel still works them up a treat tho, to the point where they permanently look on the verge of breaking point, even when they're doing well. There are still some of the spiritual tell tale signs though. A little bit too much about instinct and 'believing in yourself.'
And this time, it's like that from the off. By the end of this series, I wouldn't be surprised to see them all attempting levitation, or trying to determine what was in all the boxes thru some sort of collective conciousness or an attempt to dematerialise into a form of cloud in which everything reverts to the same base molecules and then reforms so that every box has £250,000 and everyone wins everytime and live happily ever after as the same collective being.
And Noel Edmonds would be the conductor of this orchestra of amalgamated beings. And they would probably take over all of us, whether we wanted them to or not.

And that's why I hope this series of 'Deal Or No Deal' is shorter than the last one was.