Mattress Watch

So many mattresses on the street. In the middle of the street, on the corners. Dumped, folded, crooked up and sat awkward. Each one a soul, maybe two, and then all change. Why do people obsess about changing the mattress? They’ll use the same sofa, same kitchen, same furniture. But change the mattress! So they go out on the street, the sign of rentiers.  Life.

Poem: “(Not) Out of Date Galaxies”

I wrote a short poem about my out of date Galaxy Cookie Crumble from WHSMITH in Coventry Station. I bought it for one pound, same as it costs IN DATE at Tescos and other leading supermarkets

Here are some pictures:

O Galaxy Cookie Crumble
How I love to eat you when my
Stomach rumbles
On the slowpoke
London Midland train
from Coventry To London Euston.
Falls now

Through darkening skies
And we cling to each other
Your pink foil and cookie pieces
Your out of date slightly stale structure
Coat my hunger
There is a rupture
From reality!
For a few seconds — then I realise
I am alone and soon I will be dead

East Ham Village Diary: Volume II

Some musings on East Ham.


A change is in the air.  The mood in East Ham is one of flux.  Just off High Street South, the White Horse pub has been brought crashing down; the plot will be re-developed.  I am no great drum-banger for the pub – its St George’s flags draped over all the windows gave the interior a dark, gloomy mien, and the pub itself had a certain reputation.  It was of its time.  But in its place will rise some flats (of course) out of keeping with the Victorian redbrick surrounding it.


The flats will be a smaller sibling to the massive Upton Gardens development that has been so lustily plunged into by Barratt and Gallimard.  Money talks: and it is singing loudly in E13, the pace of the works carried out at the breakneck pace that is only undertaken when there’s a pot of gold at the end of the…

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We sat in the cold air for a while,

Talking.  As if talk was any good, at this point,

In this world, on this day.

Talk is no good, he says.

Yacuum talks to me and I stare into the sky

Thinking that perhaps if I concentrate

Hard enough

I might


High End Audio

It is very easy to get sucked into the world of high end audio, or ‘audiophilia’.  It can start very innocuously.  It might be, as with me, that your trusted CD player (part of the classic Panasonic SA PM 20 midi system) had started skipping, and you wanted a solution in order to play your collection of Compact Discs.  It’s a very swift process and before you know it you are staring at a review of a £15,000 NAIM CD555.  Words like ‘confident sound reproduction’ and ‘stunning timekeeping’ are bandied about as if normal CD players had self-esteem issues, or a woeful sense of 1-2-3-4 (despite being digital devices).  The mind boggles at the speakers and amplifier that an audiophile might pair with this kind of CD player, which (lest we forget) only plays ‘Red Book’ CDs (the kind you and I know as ‘CDs’) rather than any of the high-resolution variants like SACD.  It won’t play your DVD collection.  It won’t let you plug in your iPad.  It plays CDs.  For £15,000.  A suitable speaker set up might be the Wilson Audio Alexandria XLF that cost £200,000.  Then there the ‘interconnects’ to buy – the incredibly expensive high end audio leads that provide ‘loss-less transfer’.  By no means is it an exaggeration that you could speak £300,000 on a stereo in this rarified world, and of course, at that point, you’re unlikely to have 1 set of speakers, 1 CD player, or 1 amp.  You’ll probably want a pre-amp, for instance.  And a vinyl player.  And this is just the digital world of chips and transistors. There’s another world altogether where tube amplifiers are the range.


The gateway drug to all of this was the label on my Panasonic CD player.  It states that is is ‘MASH’, the acronym given to ‘Multi Stage Noise Shaping’.  It was the proprietary trademark name for their late 80s and early 90s series of DAC chips (‘Digital Analog Converter’), which acted to convert the 1s and 0s from the digital disc back into the waveforms that make up an analog sound wave that our ears can comprehend.  DACs are now themselves incredibly contested territory and prestige DACs go for many, many thousands.  There are heritage sites dedicated to famous DACs, of which the Panasonic/Technics MASH family are low-price upstart wedding-crashers.   Here is a list of famous DACs, and a rating of the ones in the Technics MASH family.  I have ebay alerts set up to try and snag a bargain Technics CD player but of course, by now, a lot of the other components in them will have started to ‘go’, too – the capacitors, the drive-belt, the chip boards themselves.  They won’t give me that true RED BOOK SOUND ! What is a man to do?  (I turn back to streaming digital music on on old HP netbook via my FiiO E7 DAC into the Cambridge Azur 640A amplifier, in case you were wondering, which I know that you probably weren’t.)

Vinyl is a six decade old format that completely avoids this conversion, hence the purists and vinyl fans and their love of their heavy plastic frisbees.  It is never converted from analogue to digital unless of course its from one of the many studios that now record to digital, use sound editing, and then send it out to master.  Fans duly arrive on forums to knock CDs as nothing more than ‘shiny plastic mug coasters’.  Then the cassette tape fans pile in and everyone starts laughing.  I’m not sure if anyone mourns the MiniDisc.  But there is probably a very active internet forum somewhere…

David Honeywell is Outside

David Honeywell is outside.  It’s cold and there is a light haze in the air.  The mist from the morning is clearing.  David walks forward on a crumbling path, half tarmac, half dirt.  He notices a tattered American flag with the Union Jack inset on the top left corner, flat in a ditch that is also filled with shallow grimy water.

David Honeywell is outside looking at a world that was blown up.  His bones are crumbling and his eyes are bleeding.

David Honeywell is outside watching the drones pick over the desolate landscape for raw materials to take back to the Trump Compound – a place that used to be called Texas but is now a walled bio-dome exclusive for rich people to survive and prosper in the ravaged present.  There is a clear admission criteria.

The future is open wide;

Billions died;

David Honeywell is outside.




As part of reading through a script, and of course in absorbing various events around the world, I have been thinking about integration.  The script I am working through is forthcoming from my list at Bloomsbury Academic and currently has the title “Constructions of Migrant Integration in British Public Discourse: Becoming British”.  It is by Dr Sam Bennett and it’ll have the HB ISBN 9781350029200.

The book is complex.   The point rattling around my brain at the moment is rather less so : it is do with one aspect of what Bennett spends quite a while talking about and defining.  This is ‘migrant integration’.  I guess what strikes me is the racial imbalance of the thing: the Othering of the immigrant of colour.

It’s long been wryly pointed out (less wryly now there is so much, life and death even, at stake, and with humour post-Brexit) that an Indian over here in the UK is an ‘immigrant worker’.  A (usually) white British national in India working there is part of the ‘ex-pat’ community.  The same applies in Hong Kong, Moscow, in Cairo, you name it.

A Brit living in Spain, talking no Spanish and drawing down on their health service and municipal benefits is an ‘ex-pat’.  A Spanish financial services worker in London is a ‘European migrant’.

And of course there is the plurality of cultural identity that these people are allowed to hold (or not hold, depending on where you are from and where you are now living).  A white American whose ancestors hailed from Donegal or the Highlands are allowed to be as fully Irish or as Scottish as they want to be.  Embrace the Tribe!  Bang the drum.  If you are from India, or Africa, you are stubborn if you hold onto your cultural roots and eat saltfish instead of cod fishcakes.  Your goal should be to assimilate.  To be waving the Irish flag on St Patrick’s Day is a jolly jape because the Irish are ‘just like us’.  The flag of Nigeria adorned on a national holiday is viewed with suspicion – these people are ‘not trying hard enough to integrate’.  Either that or its the famed ‘chicken tikka’ conundrum.  That is–

Brits will embrace the food, the pakora, the samosas, the spices, but not the people that bring them or the smells of the cooking or the ‘odd’ customs.  They love a piss up at an Indian wedding but draw the line at loud bhangra from a passing car .

These people are not trying hard enough to integrate…