BIRTHDAY!

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In recent years I have designated my birthday and the days either side of it as my birthday-tide. A merging of several distinct days into one celebratory time outside time.

I have become able to break down my birthday-tide into the following distinct feast days.

- My actual birth date, which I generally spend privately with whatever family I have available.
The time is spent eating, picnicking, getting gifts, it’s summer so its usually out somewhere country-ish.

- Another day is spent on my Personal birthday. A day I set aside to do whatever I want. I’ll invite friends if I think they’d be interested in my plan. Or not if I don’t want.
I see this as my annual day of reckoning, Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape, but without the audio-jiggery-pokery and with the possibility of a party thrown in. One year I did a day trip to Margate, another I visited The Triangular Lodge in Northamptonshire. One year I climbed a hilltop to Julian’s Bower Labyrinth, spectacularly overlooking the confluence  of the Trent and the Humber.

- Finally there is Lammas Eve, which always falls after or between the other two days of birthday-tide. In this way my life cycle is tied into the yearly cycle of the eight-fold wheel of the Year, and maintains continuity and movement. The chance to return back, if not to the beginning, then at least to the familiar, the same however slightly changed.

Then, of course then there is my facebook birthday. Which is another tale entirely and only came about because I stupidly typed 6666 when fb asked for my date of birth.

Bella Basura
July 2014

Tales From the Laboratorium

Meanwhile…
Voice over: What IS Doctor Gordon doing? Why, he’s dawdling and meandering through                        the Bella Basura back catalogue…

Cue:  scary, slow, plinky-plink avant-garde 1970s electronic music

A title sequence of still images: zooming out from blurred meaningless close ups in b/w                                      that take the form of simulacra – a man eating a magic mushroom, a                                 terrapin, a needle and a  spoon, the Willendorf Venus, an inverted                                        pentagram, the great pyramid of Giza, other stupid things –                                                    meaningless.  A skull.

Titles: lurch out over the images in bold Baskerville typeface

Tales From the Laboratorium
Narrated by Doctor Gordon Tripp

Final image : The Doc sitting in a winged red comfy chair in his Laboratorium smoking a                     roll up, candle-lit, of course.

Doc: The BBC have banished me  to the bowels of Bella Basura’s archive. To find examples of her oeuvre, to find the treasure buried beneath the shit, the diamonds in the dung-heap. Indeed I have been commissioned to curate the befuddled maunderings  of the hebephrenic poet-thing called Bella Basura into a coherent structured TV mini-series.

Cue: a few bars of Doc Gordon’s theme tune – Terrapin – Syd Barrett .

Doc: Enigmatically, to  say La Basura, as she became known in later days, was an enigma, is an enigma, in and of itself. Thus I shall refrain from further myth-creation and tell it like it was, and go straight for the jugular. I first encountered Bella Basura (banshee howl) whilst she was a participant on a government sponsored Enterprise Allowance Scheme that meant her dole money was paid directly into a government sponsored bank account while she pursued the tremulous task of being a free-lance writer. Basura (banshee howl) used the money – £36  a week at the time – to bum around Amsterdam inventing characters for an imaginary novel. She did this solidly for a year, the whole duration of the scheme, and that was the year we met. It was the early 1990s and although it now sounds glamorous and implausible , it was universally perceived at the time as a government policy to massage the unemployment figures and also as a convenient loophole for creative slacker-types. Bella (banshee howl) didn’t mind. In fact, she still uses her year as “a freelance author in Holland” on her CV, obviously it looks better than “on benefits”
(clap of thunder).
Clearly, I digress (sputtering).
(Sputtering ) (Again).

About a year after I met Basura (banshee howl), that is 6 months after the end of her Enterprise Allowance , she turned up unannounced and needy at my Laboratorium in Camberwell, South London. Broken and dishevelled as ever, it was obvious that she was back on the dole, and to no beneficial end.  She burbled at length at me and eventually left suddenly, enstupored and intoxicated in some indeterminate manner, she left incoherently stumbling, spewing A4 pages. As she stumbled she knocked against the kitchen table and sent a thick purple crayon careening to the floor where she insensately ground it into the kitchen lino with her great wasted hobnail boot. This created a weirdly tentacled stain that I have never been able to erase, to this very day, no matter what products are used.

For over a decade in the slow-burning bile of resentment and envy, that I naturally excel in, I pointedly reminded Bella (banshee howl) of the incurable stain every time she visited me . Thus does a Scorpio deal with a Leo. Or (symbol for scorpio) square (symbol for leo), for those with astrological leanings.
(a clap of thunder)
Clearly, I digress.

The horrors  which Basura (banshee howl) barely speaks of in this piece are almost beyond words. Unspeakable to some. And yet Basura (banshee howl) is a poet and words are her craft, her tools in trade, the building blocks of her very brain. So mouth the words she must, in essence she told me she had encountered a ghost of the future, a future-shadow. A premonition no less that had begun to imbed its tentacles deep into poor Bella’s (banshee howl) fragile mind, she began writing ceaselessly and frantically.

In actuality, there was much rumour back in those far-flung days of the coming to our shores of a dark new American-style benefit system called “work-fare” and it would force claimants into unpaid jobs in supermarkets in order to  deserve or  ‘earn’ their dole-money. Myself I thought it an urban myth, but I was wrong. It was nothing less than a precursor, a progenitor and the true birth-mother to the terrors of “Work Programme”, under whose draconian tyrannies we now toil.

The following piece  is one of Bella Basura’s earliest expositions of this dreadful prediction…

Fade to black

 

 

Fasting with The Fool by Doc Gordon Tripp

Quotes from the article “Fasting with the Fool – The Seven Progressive Stages of Consciousness Under Fasting.
By Doctor Gordon Tripp

“As a form of reality distortion the practice of fasting has a long and august history. Starvation was certainly twisting the minds of our Neanderthal forebears long before they hit on sativa, somniferum or muscaria.
Fasting is well established as a prelude or preparation for a whole range of spiritual practices across a panoply of religious and folk traditions.”

Some of Doc Gordon Tripp’s experiences:

“Exhausted with cold I crawled with chattering teeth into a vague half-aware sleep. Only to wake suddenly into silent darkness, not knowing where I am, I am wracked with hunger. I realise that I haven’t eaten since leaving Cambridge, who knows how long ago. The dreadful cold seems to have frozen the mechanism of my wristwatch. I rummage through my ruck sack again, searching for the large slab of Kendal mintcake.”

“Lethargy momentarily engulfs me and I wonder again how I could have got so lost. I struggle to my feet, stomach cramping, clutching the internet map, and begin limping through the thickening trees, in a direction I imagine to be south.”

“I was awake, immobile and cold, encased in all the clothing from the ruck sack, the djellaba, blanket and bivvy bag. I find myself to be suspended from a branch by my rack sack straps, dangling precipitously over a steep drop down to melt-water swollen rapids coursing through rock strewn channels. My head feels empty, gently throbbing at the temples. I don’t know how I came to be here…”

“I begin to fear for my sanity as a gross bubbling urge to chuckle inconsequentially grips me by my watery bowels. Like after a building and unrelenting urge to defacate, the released laughter splashes and splatters from my body. Am I laughing? Am I vomiting? Am I shitting? I can’t tell, my diary notes don’t say. I roll hyperventilating in slushy snow, pukie-crappa-giggling or somesuch. I am so hungry. I want to cry. I am lucid suddenly and astonished at the diversity of this terrain, I never knew Morocco could be so varied.”

“I am drenched in sweat or snow, I know not which. I fall into deadening sleep. I wander between snow-laden trees, the path I had cautiously picked out in the thick forest seemed to have disappeared, swept away by fresh snowfalls”

“I believe my failure to identify my geographical dislocation was partly due to having no previous personal experience of either Marrakesh or Mongolia…”

Read the full article here

New link…

I’ve added a new link to my Pickings from the Internet link-list (you can also access it via the menu at the top of the page) – This most recent addition is to the Psychedelic Press Journal blogsite, to an interesting article from 2013 by Jack Hunter. In this link list I am attempting to gather…more

 

I don’t wanna be nice

I am currently rejoicing in having found a new way to circumvent the habit of a lifetime.

In the past I have found  it impossible to write anything negative in a book review and I kludged my way through this  pathological niceness by simply not reviewing books I felt ambivalent about.

There were other reasons that I failed to write a book review – lack of time, upheavals  in my private life, lack of interest in or knowledge of the subject and on at least one occasion, when having sent an email promise to let me have a hardback first edition of their next book, signed with a personal handwritten inscription along the lines “For Jean Dark, I just LOVED your last book-review”, the author simply forgot to put the book in the post.

And I found other ways to deal with my negative bibliophilic sensibilities – if the book was in e-book format I wrote about the generic failings of electronic books and avoided discussing the book itself. So desperate was I not to upset anyone, particularly if I knew their name, or the title of a book they’d written.

And then I found myself on the horns of a dilemma. I was sent an e-book to review, I fell instantly in love with the style and content, but the e-manuscript had so many typos (typing errors as blatant as “ans” for “and” etc) that by the 2nd chapter I had so lost heart and viewed the book with such dread that the experience was utterly ruined for me.

It is from this place of despair that I formulated the following ploy to avoid appearing uncharitable:

One  of my many gripes about e-books is that they often lack the basic elements that separate books from rambling hebephrenic babble. By that I don’t mean that the content is bad, it’s the production values that are at fault. For instance, a hard copy paper book would be laughed off the shelves if it lacked something as fundamental as a  contents page. Yet I have been sent e-books to review in just that state. Books that consisted of plain solid text; with none of the expected markers and signposts – like chapters, page numbers, introductions, beginnings, endings, indexes, punctuation and contents page.

Where are all the proper pedantic pagan proof-readers when you need one?
In response to this common FAQ…

Jean  Dark  is now offering an e-book proof-reading service
(reduced rates for small presses)

For more details of proof-reading and editing services available contact witchystickler@gmail.com

See, I’m really nice even when I don’t wanna be.

Somnium by Steve Moore

Today I found from the blog of the publisher Strange Attractor that Steve Moore had died on the bright spring equinox full moon.
I only recent had contact with Steve Moore, he sent me a email thanking me for a book review I had written of his Novel Somnium, which had been published in Pentacle magazine. A tantalisingly brief brush with mystery and chivalry, I feel gently charmed.

Cambridge Creates Anthology Volume 2 in the pipeline?

I have heard on the air and at the pricking of my thumbs and in the voices of my head that Shakey Navel-Bones is contemplating a reprise of the splendid Cambridge Creates Anthology. A second volume, in fact.

So, just to pique your interest again, or to engender envy if you failed to get a copy last time round…is a reprise of my previously unpublished review of Cambridge Creates Anthology from 2011

Cambridge Creates Anthology
A compilation & celebration of art within our community.
Review by Jean Dark

There are 78 individual contributions listed in the contents to this stylish new anthology of contemporary Cambridge art and writing. The striking and intriguing cover design halts the attention, like an unfamiliar logo, and draws the reader in. My first impression was of abundance, where to begin, no obvious path in. I scanned the contents and found a name I recognised – Jonny Wrong and started in from there, taking in Sadie Few, Nicky Smith, Trishna Shah, Bella Basura and ‘Anonymous’, amongst others, along the way…more