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.