Never Too Late!

Never Too Late!
any resemblance to anyone real or imaginary is mere bad luck
we are all lying in the gutter, but some of us are trying to get up


News 23/08/08

What a pleasing number, and welcome! May it be an auspicious day for all of you.

Economic news

The Euro is very strong against the Pound. In Spain, in effect, 1 euro is like 1 pound.

Meanwhile in the Stans

The mujahideen movements remain strong and committed, with heavily-won successes against international troops in Afghan, and routing Pak forces in several areas. Now everyone is talking about the "Haqqani network", but of course Haqqani and now sons has been one of the most important figures since forever (interview with Siraj, conducted by Rahimullah Yusufzai, such an nice and avuncular old guy... "Tell me, Siraj, what is the name of that gun you are holding?" - "What, this? This is Kalakov..." - "Is it a good rifle, Siraj?"...)

I guess without any specific information that Gulbuddin's HI is just holding and running its areas like a giant mafia syndicate of sorts, with desultory operations against international and govt forces. And the Taliban of course. Well, there is obviously at least one major political divide in the Taliban proper, right now, between northern and southern (Peshawar and Quetta) shuras... but it gets complicated after that... here a letter where Haqqani elder seems to challenge Mullah Omar's supreme authority...

Things to look out for: the first nuclear suicide bombing against international targets in Afghan, as soon as someone gets their hands on a missing nuke in a destabilised Pakistan.


Critic and writer Ishmael Smith is caught in a dilemma in his newest semi-autobiographical work, a writer's meditation on whether to write a novel about or whether to live the adventure that life has forced on him, when there is no choice but to make a choice, one way or another.

He waxes acerbic at boring length about the English island mentality, in his newest article in a linguistic journal, pointing out that "desde el extranjero means from overseas. Only in English do auslander, ulkomaalainen, khoreji, or what you will, translate as over seas".

Goodbye, and please do join us again


(click on pic for bigger version if you can't make out the letters on your display)
The Alchemist's Diary, on the IV day of Elliptica, in months or years past...

I have abandoned the Great Work, of transmuting personality by smelting with the Alchemical Fire. Transmuting into what... that is immaterial the ability to change is what matters. I have abandoned the Great Work, and hence suffer, cursed...

I spend too much time reading Wikipedia. I really love it, immersed in information, bathing in knowledge. The browse history is a meandering highway through ecleptic mindscapes.

I am easily more addicted to Wikipedia than to any internet pornography, and think how many endless hours of wonderful degradation you can instantly access through redtube or some such...

But am I somehow, unthinkably, psychically metabolising it into some sort of self-secreted drug? Am I hypnotising myself with it, or am I feeding some sort of strange autistic disorder?

But think of the voracious appetite to know so many things: the distance to the horizon, the sidereal year and an integer that counts the day on the Julian calendar since lunchtime, Monday January 1st in fourthousandsevenhundredwhatever before Christ... ah there you go, it didn't even stay in your mind...

But that is just an arbitrary number, why memorise such? What else do I remember... Maybe for that existential angst combined with a sense of urgency there is no (temporary) cure like heroin. (And the permanent cure for heroin is death.)

Hmm. What sort of a man can Samuel Beckett have been?

I'm sure there were many more thoughts... Hmm, I forget... Tomorrow we return with the pragmatic question of how to monetise/rationalise this Wikiobsession. An encyclopedist I shall be, no longer an alchemist... an encyclopedophile, yes....


The Tell-Tale Heart

The office manager in the institute is absolutely and completely insane. It must be so. His name is Julian, and one of his eyes glares out madly in a different direction, like the old man in the Poe story... the stare of his mad eye is a stare to drive one mad himself... Why does he stay every day so late into the night? Wandering around, going in the girls' toilets, wandering, peering... Listening on his phone line whenever anyone in the building is making a phone call... Trying to deny me my breakfast tickets...

-Tio, es totalmente loco... Semana pasada, tomó un martillo y clavos, y ¡bam! bam! bam! Cerró la ventana, para siempre... porque... shhhh... Vienen...

We now have a plan to push him over the edge. As he wanders and peers, whenever he passes, a whisper:

-¿Como? No, yo no dije nada...

-Juliancito... es tu abuela...
-¡¿ ?!!
-¿Julian, estas bien? No, no he oído nada...

-Julian... soy Vladimir Putin... tengo una misión urgente y muy importante para tí...

Slowly but surely we will drive him over the edge. To what end, I am not so certain, although it was my idea to organise a golpe de estado in the oficina... Breakfast tickets for everyone!

But perhaps I should explain Lazy's position here a little. It is an institute which does intensive immersion English courses (among many other short courses in an eclectic variety of subjects) for young people from all around Spain. They have classes from morning to evening with only breaks for meals, but in order to immediately put into practice what they have learned in class, they do not even get a break then, because Lazy - as I keep calling him but shouldn't as it might be a self-fulfilling prophecy thing - eats lunch and dinner with them and engages them in (sometimes reluctant) conversation.

Both meals are generally three-course and extras affairs with coffee after lunch and too much wine to drink at dinner. The majority of the students are always girls, for some reason. Oh, and he has to twice a week organise informal English activities for the students, which can involve wandering around the old town or getting drunk til the small hours. This is a salaried position, the meals obviously covered, plus those all-important tickets for breakfast.

The main requirements for the position are:

-the ability to show up at an appointed time and place a total of 12 times per week for one hour, 10 of which are meals, 5 of which are evening meals that can stretch much longer than an hour what with the wine and sobremesa and that
-the ability to drink the same Señoría de Iniesto with dinner every night. now you think this is a joke, but this is a very red, very heavy, cloudy and tannin-rich wine, and it is destroying digestive system
-the ability to absorb more or less the same large, rich, meat- and seafood-heavy meals, on a weekly repeating menu
-the ability and inclination to actively engage Spanish mostly girls in conversation, in English, over meals and drinks

This, of course, is rather a healthy routine in the circumstances, and Lazy's brain chemistry is probably markedly improving. It leaves him a lot of time for the other writing stuff, which I will now try and make him finish.


Lazy has gradually started the work of improving and upgrading his this realgem thing, applying labels and writing new words.... Thank you and much love to all who still visit....

A reason to rise in the mornings

I have started carrying a notebook everywhere with me just like I used to. For words I want to remember, for example, but also for catching fleeting ideas. I always always used to have a notebook at arm's reach. The best ideas come unexpected, often as you are drifting away to sleep, and I have to catch and preserve them. Often on waking I have forgotten what I wrote, and discover with some astonishment.

"Face down lying dead in the bloody snow... What a life wasted, that could have been spent drinking on street corners..." I wrote in some hypnogogic haze the other night. It seemed like some sort of an insight or epiphany at the time. I have a vague memory I was dreaming about the stories of Red Army soldiers linking arms and singing songs as they trudged all in a line abreast towards Finnish lines to clear the minefields in '39 or '40...

But my God, how bleak, how dark, how desolate, that voice inside...

Thank God I now have a reason to get out of bed in the mornings (everyone needs one, y'know...). That reason is breakfast. I get breakfast tickets to one of the nicest hotels in town as one the perks of my position, and I have to be out of the door by 9.30 or 10.30am at the absolute very latest to make it there for breakfast time. If that seems not at all early to you, may I remind you of the former morphinist's chronic and crippling insomnia.

Funny how the little things can make such a difference. Everyone needs a reason to get out of bed in the morning or you may as well shoot yourself. Maybe tomorrow it will be driven by the desire to throw myself into some great work, or sheer joie de vivre to see the beauty of another day, or que será. But for now, mine is breakfast, which is as good a goddamn reason as any.

Contra Movistar

I bought a Spanish SIM card for my phone. You have to provide ID when buying even a pre-pay SIM in lots of countries on the continent, did you know that? I gave her my driving licence. She frowned at the unfamiliar-looking card. "¿Que problema? ¡Es un carné de conducir del Reino Unido!" I said as if I couldn't believe anyone would even dare to question a document issued by Her Britannic Majesty's government's DVLA. In Swansea. Goddamit.

She mumbled something and went to check with her manager. No good, it didn't have an ID number on it. "No tenemos numeros en Inglaterra..." I said indignantly.

O todavía no... Hello, England, say no to the goddamn ID cards! Riot, riot if you have to!

But wonderful as all the bizarre legal idiosyncracies, opportunities for bureaucratic and financial obfuscation and manipulation, and ability to avoid governmental interference in the UK there are, they still don't make the average lifestyle that much better...

Still, God save the Queen. I got drunk on gin and tonic (the Empire's drink: quinine for the malaria, lemon for the scurvy, alcohol for the violence) but still couldn't sleep til six, even with the help of Morocco's finest and a few mild sedatives, my right leg twitching and tapping away all by itself. And I wake a couple hours later shivering and covered in cold sweat.

It's such an old story, you've heard it all before...


The window to the sky and the bar in the middle of fucking nowhere

It is dark and the air is warm and fragrant with summer

So Lazy was pulled out of a big Merc people-carrier full of horribly be-dreadlocked obvious stoners at Dover ("Well, you're obviously some sort of a band or something," the Kent police officer said, peering around the bongo-drum laden interior, and then asking me aside.)

"What I want to know is how you fit in with these people?" he asked suspiciously, looking at the Pak and Afghan stamps in the passport and the cropped hair and more-or-less neat clothes, and the usual questions: where from, what do, how can I classify you in my scheme of things?

Jesus, what to say? It's no good being flippant with these people. I told him I'm a journalist (which I am when I'm not being a PR flack - maybe this is one of the sources of the schizophrenia?) and blah blah blah. He told me they were obviously concerned because these are like dangerous countries, but conversely, maybe I could help them with anything, if I keep my ear to the ground out there...

Of course, officer, I would be delighted, most delighted... He actually shook my hand, and we are through and soon having a quick reefer on the deck of the night ferry. France flashes by in a haze again (France, to me: nice motorway rest stops) and it is night again by the time we are pulling through into Spain. ¡Viva!

They dropped me off in Valladolid in the middle of the night and carried on to Portugal and I started to make my way a little further south through warm Spanish night. I don't remember how, exactly, but I arrived. Yes, Lazy did. The town is pretty, the women are beautiful, the weather clement and the food is good. I can see how ones have fallen in love with this place. Here and not going fucking nowhere, puta madre.


Lost in La Mancha

Are you from somewhere? Anywhere?

I have a strange hazy memory of arriving in London in the hot June of 2000, and specifically remember telling people I'd be around, well, for a couple of weeks.

Eight years pass quickly. Shockingly so. With nothing to show for it. Well, an almost-profession, which is good for paying the bar bills. And all the other stuff. You probably know, anyway.

And really, I was never for the cold and protestant north. Never I was. And what I do for money, honey? I can do it anywhere, whatever it is. Putting words together. But it so saddens me I have stopped writing for the pleasure of it (was there ever such?), or doing it for the need to put it out, what was inside, somehow.

Look, maybe I will keep writing here. Or point you to somewhere else interesting on the web.

It will all add up to something, one day.

One day.


Sale, demonios!

Y... ¿que mas? Mejor aqui, mejor aqui, sin duda, ninguna puta duda. But I have to remember, I have to remember, remember. something.

Santa Marinella

This song has been fucking beautiful to me from the first I ever heard it. Here with subtitles to help with Gogol Bordello/Eugene Hütz's gutter Italian/Russian.

Oh, the gutter again. I always liked that Oscar Wilde phrase - we are all lying in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars. But I've been lying here stargazing for so long now...