Startled insects

no-one ever says ‘big world’

Today a nexus; the Dean asks me if I know about J H Prynne, because he was at the same college, and is pleased I do. This leaves me wanting to read a poem in my lunch break so I type “where we startled insects live” and up pops a book about Exploring the Networked Worlds of Popular Music: Milieux Cultures where I learn there was an 80s Bristol band called the Startled Insects, who soundtracked a film I love, The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb, which in turn has a voice performance from one of the other Andrew Baileys, and who were part of the same milieux culture that a teacher friend was back then. I can’t demonstrate the direct source of band name but The White Stones was 1969, so there’s only one direction possible. And with that lunch runs out.


Photo credit: pippalou from


Caramel day

Apparently that’s today, but I’m not sure how far to trust a site that thinks the same month contains Walk Around Things Day, That Sucks Day and Hug An Australian Day. I don’t think I’d like this old poem enough to put into public if it weren’t relevant.


Salted amber, alchemy of simple syrup,
warmed to opal gold too soft for solid,
still for liquid, how my lizardness wants you;

how days I want to cry are days I want
to cry in reach of chocolate, cupcake,
caramel, some fix for bliss receptors.

To make new friends make candy; to make
them last make lunch. Cara mel, dear honey,
false etymology but true – bitter, buttery,

and bitten leaves a spidersilk across the chin
and will not wipe away. You wear a muzzle, lizard,
but don’t your sweet teeth stay in the head.

photo credit: Pan of Liquid Caramel by Sarah R (by-nc-nd license)

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Fiasco Friday in Chichester

Friday, 1 April, 6pm for 6.30 – CGC Emporium, North St, Chichester

April Fool’s Day is a good choice for a game exploring the mishaps of a group of people with powerful urges and poor self control. I’ll be facilitating a game of Fiasco, by Jason Morningstar, at our new friendly local game store, in the evening of the 1st April, in which we’ll create and be part of a Coen Brothers style story over the evening. Contact the shop if you’re interested in a place at the table – 3 to 5 people is perfect and last I heard there’s still room.

In case you don’t know the game:

among others. The playsets make every instance different – I’ve been in an Antarctic scientific expedition that went horribly wrong, a haunted house that went terribly wrong, and a Poseidon Adventure in space that went fearsomely wrong. There’s a theme. I’ll bring several genres on the night; there’s several at the Fiascomputer (where the featured image comes from).

May all your dice be white.


Sometimes I’ve felt that poetry serves a role for me in addressing a crisis before it becomes fact, allowing me to thrash it out on own terms.

-Chris McCabe, in The Best British Poetry 2015.


Somewhere there’s a photo of me getting what I think might be my first drink, outside the thumb dipped in gin for the gripe; it’s me in a blazer, certainly preteen, and my grandfather sharing his ruby port. I’m pretty sure it’s one of the birthday meals he used to host for his wider family – wife, two daughters, their husbands, their two children each – and that means it’s an exact number of years from today, which would have been his 100th birthday. He was so keen to see it, and missed by less than two years. I have been drinking port tonight in salute, and I wish it could have been with him.

La sottise, l’erreur, le péché, la lésine.

I found a seventeen year old notebook today, about half full of poems and quotes in my own younger handwriting (better handwriting) that I clearly wanted to remember or keep. One was the Baudelaire quote that’s the title here – folly, error, vice greed, and no note to self why I wanted to save that. I still like quite a lot of them, which either means I had good taste then or I’ve not developed a better one. Some embarrassments I shouldn’t share. Some I know aren’t great but I like anyway. Some I remember writing down – when I found the HD poem’Choros from Morpheus’ I could remember the slightly musty paperback I found it in, the bed at my aunt’s I was sitting in as I transcribed it, and I’m pretty sure the wintry sun shining on the page as I did. Others I don’t recall at all, but I’m happy to rediscover Allison Eir Jenks’ Heaven, which you can find here if you’ve got login privileges.

This also is in there, from Martin Millar’s Ruby and the Stone Age Diet:

We disappear into our separate rooms and I get back to staring at my pot plant. I had considered writing a poem but now I don’t feel much like it because with Ruby in such a bad mood I will have no-one to show it to. But this is probably just as well, because I am a terrible poet.

I think copying that means I was having a low self esteem day.