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




do you try and find a way to make the thoughts you are trying to express conform themselves to language,


do you twist and hammer the language to make it take the shape of your thoughts?

gad about


1. a person who moves about restlessly or aimlessly, especially from one social activity to another.

2. a person who travels often or to many different places, especially for pleasure.

3. (informal) a person who restlessly seeks amusement


Keepers of private notebooks, anxious malcontents

“Why did I write it down? In order to remember, of course, but exactly what was it I wanted to remember? How much of it actually happened? Did any of it? Why do I keep a notebook at all? It is easy to deceive oneself on all those scores. The impulse to write things down is a peculiarly compulsive one, inexplicable to those who do not share it, useful only accidentally, only secondarily, in the way that any compulsion tries to justify itself. I suppose that it begins or does not begin in the cradle. Although I have felt compelled to write things down since I was five years old, I doubt that my daughter ever will, for she is a singularly blessed and accepting child, delighted with life exactly as life presents itself to her, unafraid to go to sleep and unafraid to wake up. Keepers of private notebooks are a different breed altogether, lonely and resistant rearrangers of things, anxious malcontents, children afflicted apparently at birth with some presentiment of loss.”

(Joan Didion on keeping notebooks, extract from an essay)


Tyrwhitt Road

(It has also just come to my attention that Matt Potter has written a rather rocking book, Outlaws, Inc.)


Notes on my Wikipedia addiction

I am lost on Wikipedia again and I tell the little Danish girl about Ivar the Boneless, the feared Viking war chief and prince, when the Danes ravaged England and the Saxon kingdoms paid the Danegeld, and even Alfred the Great marched against him but avoided a full battle and couldn’t stop the Great Heathen Army.

She is gratified. Matter of national pride. I occasionally like to remind the English they were colonised by Scandinavia too.

Colonised. Like colon. Like fucked in the ass. Like we have the swords and the steel and this is our land now and you must pay us rent, one way or another, and you will still be slaves to our descendants and still have a monarchy in 2014.

The first organised tax system in Western Europe since the fall of the Roman Empire was born from the Danegeld, which was originally paid to the Danes by the people of London to make them go away. Taxes began to be raised to pay off the Norsemen, or to pay for the armies to fight against them.

Thanks, I tell her.

 Ivar the Boneless. Reputedly a berserker. What names these people have! Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye, Sweyn Forkbeard. The Boneless. I picture an implacable rubbery fiend hacking bishops and dodging arrows. I can’t even believe Ivar the Boneless 
exists! Someone has just been tripping out and inventing stuff. Some Wikipedia troll far advanced in hashish watching too much Game of Thrones or something.
 But here he is: Ivar Benløs, hinn beinlausi. 
I ask the Danish girl, who is basking in a patriotic glow, to help me interpret the Old Norse/Old Danish. She looks at it and says it's Icelandic.

The Danish Wikipedia has this to say: at han var den værste af alle de grusomme vikinger, som lod de kristne torturere til døde under ofringen til hedenske afguder [kilde mangler]. 

You can understand that, can’t you? That's plain Scandinavian. Danish is alright, until they actually start speaking it... Gruesome Viking, torturing Christians to death as offerings to the heathen gods [source needed]. It is said he killed King Ella with the ‘blood eagle’, perhaps familiar from Conan the Barbarian stories or something like that? Where the ribs are cut away from the spine down the back and the rib-cage pulled back and the lungs pulled out like bloody wings.

English Wikipedia has a very different and of course much more comprehensive (a billion English-speakers vs 5.5 million Danish) entry:

There is some disagreement as to the meaning of Ivar's epithet "the Boneless" (inn Beinlausi) in the sagas. Some have suggested it was a euphemism for impotence or even a snake metaphor (he had a brother named Snake-in-the-Eye). It may have referred to an incredible physical flexibility; Ivar was a renowned warrior, and perhaps this limberness gave rise to the popular notion that he was "boneless". The poem "Háttalykill inn forni" describes Ivar as being "without any bones at all".

... another interpretation of the nickname involves Scandinavian sources as describing a condition that is sometimes understood as similar to a form of osteogenesis imperfecta. The disease is more commonly known as "brittle bone disease." In 1949, the Dane Knud Seedorf wrote:

Of historical personages the author knows of only one of whom we have a vague suspicion that he suffered from osteogenesis imperfecta, namely Ivar Benløs, eldest son of the Danish legendary king Regnar Lodbrog. He is reported to have had legs as soft as cartilage ('he lacked bones'), so that he was unable to walk and had to be carried about on a shield.

...  In 2003 Nabil Shaban, a disability rights advocate with osteogenesis imperfecta, made the documentary The Strangest Viking for Channel 4's Secret History,... also demonstrated that someone with the condition was quite capable of using a longbow, such that Ivar could have taken part in battle, as Viking society would have expected a leader to do...

Does this somehow tie in to the way he martyred St Edmund of East Anglia (869) by having him tied to a tree and shot full of arrows, I wonder?
There are many interpretations and variations in these stories from the 9th century AD. Differing documentary sources and sagas and legends.

For example, Danish Wikipedia suggests: "Benløs" betyder omkringfarende og hentyder vistnok til, at han sejlede rundt om Europa bl.a. via de russiske floder[Kilde mangler]" - that is to say Ivar Benløs (which in modern Danish sounds more like 'Ivar the Legless') alluded to someone who rushes around and refers to him moving around a lot, sailing from the Atlantic to the depths of Russia. Meaning then something, maybe, like Ivar the Rootless?

Kilde mangler.

Ah, but what a Wikipedia-er I am! Not only do I check Wikipedia entries in multiple languages, not only do I occasionally edit entries to correct obvious mistakes (as long as it’s not too much work), but I even check the sources, and find the text of the ‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’ on project Gutenberg.

A.D. 869. This year the army went back to York, and sat there a year.

13 words for all of the year 869.

The ‘army’ referred to is the Great Heathen Army of the Danes; of Ivar the Boneless, and his brothers Halfdan and Ubba.; no longer were the Vikings raiding the coast; they were here to invade:

A.D. 870. This year the army rode over Mercia into East-Anglia, and there fixed their winter-quarters at Thetford. And in the winter King Edmund fought with them; but the Danes gained the victory, and slew the king; whereupon they overran all that land, and destroyed all the monasteries to which they came. The names of the leaders who slew the king were Hingwar [Ivar, also Ingvar and Hinguar in other sources] and Hubba. At the same time came they to Medhamsted, burning and breaking, and slaying abbot and monks, and all that they there found. They made such havoc there, that a monastery, which was before full rich, was now reduced to nothing. The same year died Archbishop Ceolnoth; and Ethered, Bishop of Witshire, was chosen Archbishop of Canterbury.

It seems Ivar died soon after this; according to the Fragmentary Annals of Ireland in 873, “of a sudden hideous disease. Thus it pleased God.” Some hideous disease afflicting the boneless, perhaps. One Wikipedia author also points out that deaths from sudden, hideous diseases were probably rather common in the late 9th century.

The Viking army stayed in England for 14 years, slaying kings and bishops and looting churches and burning monasteries and extorting tribute.

A.D. 879. This year went the army from Chippenham to Cirencester, and sat there a year. The same year assembled a band of pirates, and sat at Fulham by the Thames. The same year also the sun was eclipsed one hour of the day.
A.D. 880. This year went the army from Cirencester into
East-Anglia, where they settled, and divided the land....

Then they appeared to have moved on to France:

The same year
went the army over sea, that before sat at Fulham, to Ghent in
Frankland, and sat there a year.
A.D. 881. This year went the army higher up into Frankland, and the Franks fought with them; and there was the army horsed after the battle.
A.D. 882. This year went the army up along the Maese far into Frankland, and there sat a year; and the same year went King Alfred out to sea with a fleet; and fought with four ship-rovers of the Danes, and took two of their ships; wherein all the men were slain; and the other two surrendered; but the men were severely cut and wounded ere they surrendered.

42 words for 879.

The comparison with the insane flood of words and stories and counter-stories of record that our world generates these days, daily, hourly, is almost vertiginous. 

There is an IRC channel I think that just live dumps all the changes being made to Wikipedia, in real time, but I can't find it right now... I want to use it for a screensaver, rather than the Matrix code rain type things I've usually had. (If you can be bothered to find it for me, put it in the comments!)


the bizarre poetry of happenstance


Dead Blogs that I Knew and Loved

This blog post - torn living and still beating (?? - an odd choice of words, surely?) from the proceedings of the American Center for Surreal and Paranoid Life - will serve as a singular resting place where anyone can drop off (and find) DEAD BLOGS.

Dead blogs can be a treasure trove of interest to those who look carefully.

So when you find an interesting dead blog on the internet, (and let's define "dead blog" as any blog that has been inactive for longer than three months any blog that is dead), pick up the link to that blog and give it a proper place to rest.

Dump the link HERE in this post's comments section, henceforth known as the GRAVEYARD OF DEAD BLOGS.

Or leave some flowers.

Let this be a place where others can view the dead blogs, and pay their respects to interesting ideas and thoughts gone by. (You will also find some dead blogs that I knew and loved, still listed in the 'Arbitrary blogworld sampler' in the sidebar.)

The silence... they say, is deafening



-I can't write about B, because if C found out, he might shoot D, or at least all hell would break loose, and last time someone ended up being tortured by the police for 3 days and V almost got their throat cut
-I can't write about G, because if he ever saw what I had to say, his head might explode or he might have an apoplectic fit or something, and even though he's a bastard, I actually almost feel sorry for the poor guy, and he almost got shot a week or two ago anyway, and must have been half scared to death
-I don't want to write about E, because F might be jealous
-I don't want to write about I, because that would just give everyone a headache
-Q can't publish the report we've been working on for two years, presumably because they're genuinely terrified of the XYZ, even though everyone is finally coming out and saying that stuff openly now anyway, and now I'm wondering if we'll ever see that $10,000 or whatever it was
-And without that $10,000, who else could conceivably be creatively thought to owe me money? Who could I invoice, and for what? G is probably still in shock, and besides, I haven't been in direct contact for a year. And Z, well, the less said the better, and I'm implicitly sort of sworn to silence anyway
-And so on and on

You see, it makes it all a bit difficult to write anything about anything.


Obfuscate and fictionalise

Dawn comes earlier each day.

It is a long time now since this realgem thing began. As with many journals, when things were the most interesting there was least time to write. Not to mention the hostile surveillance efforts...

It surprises me when I occasionally hear someone has spent time reading through this document... rarely, but it still sometimes happens.

They always seem to think I am a fictional character.


The link in the sidebar has been fixed. Click on the Applied Solipsism ribbon to discover what Applied Solipsism can do for you.

Pseudorandom Estonian quilts

At the top of this page you can see that blogger search bar thing with its "Next blog" button/link. If this page bores you, try clicking it and see what you get. Once upon a time it took me on a worldwide journey of random jumps through the minds of an incomprehensible selection of random people. Now you will find it offering you endless blogs in Estonian, one after the other, or offer you a world of blogs written by people whose main interest is knitting shawls or quilts. Yes, endless blogs about quilts. It seems to find a random theme and then stick to it.

(Is this the fault of the infamous random() function, which is not really random at all, and will compromise any cryptographic keystream?)

I still maintain that Facebook killed the internet. Strong statement, you say? Then why are all the blogs that "Next blog" takes you through idle, most recently updated in 2009? They are all busy clicking "Likes" and "Shares", like so many lab rats pressing levers for food, or electric stimulation of pleasure centres in their brains.


Can't Get Loose

karaoke version...

Why does it terrify me so, all the empty pages waiting to be filled?

Nature Boy in industrial north London


oh for them good old days of the internet....


i got home and walked up the stairs and she came out of the shower still damp, timing of the gods. i pushed her against the door and kissed her. if i hadn't had my hands full with a red velvet embroidered bedspread and an oil painting of a sofa i would have pulled open her dressing gown and pushed her back into the shower. she pushed me away and laughed and said: you're drunk you crazy, and escaped downstairs.

two other people said the same thing immediately afterwards when they saw me.

however, i am absolutely, deadly, seriously, 100% certain that i was not drunk.

i sit on the floor, but sometimes i have guests who like sitting like european people do. i'm not about to clutter my floor and cover up my best afghan silk qilim (a gift from a certain shady colonel-saheb, colonel of what we're not sure, but that's another story) with bulky armchairs. but now i've at least indulged them with an abstract painting of a sofa which i found in a skip.



The one notebook that I cannot lose...

Having recently lost three, from my collection of manymany; but three I would rather have kept. This one lives in an electronic cloud, though, and it would take an accident of rather cataclysmic proportions to wipe it out.

I should have £20,000 on my account, even allowing for the extravagant spending. I have about £100, and my shoes are wearing out. I should feel strong and walk proud, muscles in my arms like bundles of electric cable. I walk in a chaotic shambling quick-march like an exhausted soldier on Pervitin,[redacted]
things that would certainly, from certain quarters, merit a quick pistol-shot to keep hidden forever. I witness, from a privileged spot, stories that may or may not make the history books; histories which, it suddenly occurs to me with an unpleasant jolt, I am supposed to be writing.

We have secrets, but secrets we cannot sell. [redacted]
The woman I loved, I realise now that she's gone, was never really ever there; she was some sort of a distant fantasy, sporadically reified.

It is the end of another day. The light was beautiful today, a peculiar incandescence suffusing everything with a golden glow. [redacted]

My faithful readers...


Txt msg blues

The crash of thunder has died away, the smell of electricity fades from the air. I am spent from climaxing across the voluptuous dark sky in lightning bolts. The evening sun re-emerges and banishes my occult fever. My eyes flicker like fluorescent strip lights when the grid voltage is too low, or like will-o'-the-wisp swamp lights dancing like sick midges.

There is no return. Nothing is true; there is no day of reckoning. Forgetfulness lurks in the dead tall reeds, the waters lap darkly, the oars creak, the fish neither care nor remember. The rain begins again.

My words are cheap opium dreams, stolen from lost travelers seeking nothing but the warmth of a ragged blanket for another shivering night on another endless road, wracked by the lonely lust of devildom - dust and spiders and spider venom.


“That famous writer’s block is a myth as far as I’m concerned. I think bad writers must have a great difficulty writing. They don’t want to do it. They have become writers out of reasons of ambition. It must be a great strain to them to make marks on a page when they really have nothing much to say, and don’t enjoy doing it. I’m not so sure what I have to say but I certainly enjoy making sentences.”
— Gore Vidal (RIP)

I can't seem to settle down anywhere

'Where are you from?'
'What do you mean?'
'I mean where were you brought up?'
'Terminal 1, Frankfurt-am-Main airport. And we lived for a while in Dubai Terminal 3 as well.'



Lazy has begun adding the occasional new post, again.... realgem endures, yet...

But there is other work to be done... In the meantime, may I leave you with documentary-maker Adam Curtis's wonderful blog, The Medium and the Message, and its epic and unusual history of foreign involvement in the country of Afghanistan, Kabul: City Number One, rich with unknown history, supplemented by clips of rare footage from the depths of the BBC's archives.

(It occurs to me that Afghanistan, appropriately enough somehow for a country which in many ways occupies a different historical era from most of the readers of this blog, has its very own time zone at +4h30 GMT.)


job description

stationed behind a protective sangaar of empty beer bottles

or a lone whiskey glass standing sentry

in the bar over the valley, nestled between the two peaks. un sitio muy defendable, cuando llega el apocalipsis.

church bell begins as soon as i start to write. maybe sounds more like a gong, or someone banging a piece of scrap metal with a hammer.

-reasonable knowledge of matters afghanistan linguistic, political, historical, social and military

-plausible written expression in english

-no objection to ocasionally smuggling small quantities of illegal materials or incriminating documents through dubai airport or illegal amounts of currency through london or european airports

-willingness to risk life, limb or liberty for the chance of travel, possibly adventure and a near-nominal remuneration. generous expenses account, on the other hand.

-knowledge of farsi, pashtu, urdu desirable

dubai airport

the only reason i mention dubai so much, despite it being a despicable place, is because i have done so much writing while trapped in its airport. i met a zimbabwean with a revoked passport who had been stuck in there for a month, once.

i like the airport. i like airports and train and bus stations in general, the sensation of being an in-between place, people from across the human spectrum going to other places. dubai airport, in particular, apart from the free wifi and cheap duty free, has the added hidden buzz of spies, businessmen, 'consultants', 'contractors', mercenaries, strange people on inscrutable missions; snatches of overheard muttered conversations in the so-called irish pub rich with obscure references to things most people don't know or don't want to know about. elegantly suited corporate travellers , arabs in dazzling white gowns wearing backward baseball caps, balochis in sandals and shalwar qamiz and cloth bundles of luggage tied up with rope, young indian men in flares and shirts open at the neck, dazzlingly beautiful arab girls in tight jeans and jingling with gold and platinum jewellery.

a kuwaiti girl with the offhand manner of command of some sheikh's or emir's or prince's daughter ordering ice cream in the food court, sitting at the table across from me, leaning back to stretch her back and shoulders and show off her ohmigod beautiful tits for me, the wonderful kind of departure lounge flirtation that can never go anywhere.

huge black guy with the manner of a marine sgt in a dyncorp t-shirt, herding a crowd of filipino and bangla contract workers for a big fob somewhere off a bus onto an afghan-bound flight, lining them all up and scanning them all with a handheld barcode reader.

i am still in the room, listening to the voice droning on outside

"nutting is a very wonderful english thing.

king harold nutted prince william or whatever he was. that's the real story of what went on in hastings. and then they took out an arrow and shot him. but first he nutted him.

you couldn't nut anybody. but the mentalist could. he could nut someone."


The old people in the ancient village (which huddles from the winds in between the two tallest peaks) have tottered up the hill to howl at the moon. A drunk plays mournful blues harp in the street, like a film noir cliche. I can't sleep.
"I was here when the ameobas started, I spoke to them, I've been here millions of years.
I killed my brother and my sister. I cut out their hearts cause I knew that was the best way.
No I could never do that. i could never become a fly. I was buzzing around the kitchen earlier."

(Well, okay, but look out for hot light bulbs and candles, I say)

(I think we're having a fly moment here. we have no way of knowing that we haven't been sitting here miserably drunk forever. just like a fly circling endlessly and aimlessly, forgetting everything that happened a few seconds ago)

I don't really speak Farsi; however, I am fluent in a language of my own invention which, on occasion, is mutually comprehensible with farsi.


Democracy is another religion like the universal and catholic Church of the Middle Ages, when the black death raged across Europe and strange apocalyptic sects wandered the land, demented with fear and ergotism, lashing themselves with whips and appealing to heaven, praying to God to save them. Reminds me awful lot of certain futile protests, with people shouting themselves hoarse, as if only they shout the right slogan with enough fervor something will change. What difference????? Neither will change anything.

At least not until there are cars upside down burning, molotov cocktails impacting on police APCs.

"Political power grows from the barrel of a gun." (Mao Tse Tung)

"Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win." (Sun Tzu)


the writing life

it is the same everywhere. the forests are under assault. the last remotenesses crumble.

and what is this constant feed of information doing to me? doing to you?
new types of conceptual filters... (that is why so much of history seems so insane; seen through their conceptual filters at the time, it made sense.... perhaps...) new types of conceptual filters for a new type of world. 

the ability to ignore has never been so important.
writing leads to discoveries, and 'words build bridges into unexplored regions'[quote a. hitler] (both for the reader and the writer, the speaker and the listener), apart from its ability to bring pleasure, wonder or emotion to whoever should read it.

and then why disvalue it so much? that with all this staring into glowing rectangles, not even an hour, a stingy half-an-hour given to the art? cause 'i practised by art til i'm blue in the face, man...' ('my heart's on the plate...') [roots manuva, chin high]
it's still a typewriter. with a few little extras. don't forget your origins.