Stare Into Space

Stone Tape Shuffle

Posted on | March 13, 2012 | Comments Off on Stone Tape Shuffle

Iain Sinclair Stone Tape Shuffle CoverSo this arrived.

Iain Sinclair: Stone Tape Shuffle.

A collection of readings by Sinclair. It’s got stuff from Lud Heat, Suicide Bridge, Downriver and White Chappell, Scarlet Tracings and was recorded in various places around east London and the City. As well as location noise spill, it’s been mixed with plenty of weird sounds that weave in and out over Sinclair’s unsettling, staccato prose. The end result is wonderfully deranged and eerie.

And it’s on nice, heavy, vinyl. I love those big black circles.

Hat tip to my baby brother for the heads up on the release.

It’s a limited pressing so off you go and get one.

Nature, Not Nurture

Posted on | March 7, 2012 | Comments Off on Nature, Not Nurture

You know that thing where a baby cries and cries and cries for ages and then…

He stops. It’s quiet. Oh, thank Christ. He’s asleep, finally asleep. Your shoulders slowly relax. Your jaw unclenches.

Then he starts crying again. He was toying with you.

Cruelty is innate.

On the other hand, yesterday, New Kid broke wind loudly and laughed mightily at the amusing noise.

Amusement at fart jokes is also innate.

Swings and roundabouts.

Phantom Machinations

Posted on | February 7, 2012 | 2 Comments


A vast room, in darkness but for a single cone of light that illuminates GEORGE at the head of a long table. A row of execs sit in the shadows along each side. Their chairs are considerably shorter than George’s.


Maybe we can put some aliens in it. Worked with Crystal Skull.


Erm. They’re already aliens, sir. All of them.

George flashes him a beardy scowl. The exec flinches; draws back into his chair.

No one speaks for a while.


Come on. Christ! I have to do everything around here. How do we re-release Phantom Menace and make it even shittier? We did it with the first three dozens of times. We have to be able to get these prequels shittied-up too. Think, you bastards!

No one wants to make eye-contact.


Sir? The problem is, Phantom Menace is already so incredibly shitty that it’s hard to see how it could be given more stank. We call it the Jar-Jar-Effect. Phantom is already perfectly shitty. Right first time sir, if I may be so bold.


Don’t suck up, Barry.


Actually, it’s Alan, sir.


No! It’s Barry!

Alan/Barry clears his throat.


Barry. Yes sir.


Good boy, Mike. Look, what about Ackbar as a teenage-punk, dressed as James Dean on a motorcycle? Can we CGI that in somehow?

Two rows of silhouettes look everywhere but at George.


You guys suck! Seriously, you’re sucking all the freaking midichlorians out of the room.

He grows quiet-

Then smug.

He leans forward. He’s onto something.

The atmosphere in the room charges.

Execs tense-





And then-

Applause. Growing. Building. Rapturous.

I Need Some Time Alone

Posted on | January 19, 2012 | 4 Comments

PhotoI think future generations will not know how to be alone*.

I’m relatively certain that’s a rare enough skill now but, next time you’re out for a drink, keep an eye on any pair of people in the pub. When one leaves to use the bathroom or queue for a pint, the person left behind immediately pulls out a smart-phone and reads emails or news or declares themselves mayor of Shitsville on Foursquare or something (I don’t know how Foursquare works). The same obviously holds for those individuals waiting for someone.

I’ve caught myself doing it and, while I’m ok with this occasionally, I’m actually forcing myself not to do it all the time. In the days before smart phones, I was ok with sitting quietly, watching the world go by, thinking, plotting, etc. I don’t want that to change.

I’m not some crazy, torch-wielding, luddite, by the way. I don’t think we should ban all iPhones in pubs and Tea Shoppes and opium dens and whatnot. I just think it’s pleasant—and actually useful—to be alone sometimes.

Listen to your thoughts. Cultivate your alone time, people. Your brain doesn’t need to be crammed with input every single second. Take a few to process what’s already in there. It’s a good thing.

*They also won’t know how to read a map, just looking for that blue, you-are-here, GPS dot or listening to Brian Blessed bellow instructions from the Celebrity Voice add-on of their sat-nav.

IMG: With apologies to Byron

Posted on | January 5, 2012 | Comments Off on IMG: With apologies to Byron

And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill.

2012-01-05 13443

IMG: Testing

Posted on | December 22, 2011 | 2 Comments

Testing WordPress from iPhone. Fully expect this to go awfully, horribly wrong.


Christopher Hitchens

Posted on | December 18, 2011 | Comments Off on Christopher Hitchens

Christopher HitchensHearing of the death of someone you don’t personally know, yet whom you admire, is always a little odd. You can feel that your distanced sense of loss is a little disingenuous; that it hasn’t been earned. When the deceased is well-known and likely to be the subject of much tribute, there’s also the natural disinclination to get swept up in some mawkish wave of Diana-like sentimentality. Surely any normal person would just have a quiet pint in salute to the deceased rather than blather on about them.

I will do that.

And I’ll blather on just a little.

I remember the first time I heard (and heard of) Christopher Hitchens. It was about ten years ago and he was on a drive-time, talk-radio show discussing some of the less-savoury deeds attributed to Henry Kissinger. Hitchens was hugely impressive. So much so, I ordered his book, The Trial Of Henry Kissinger as soon as my commute was done.

Hitchens journalistic skill—not to mention his brilliance as a writer—is certainly in no doubt. I’ve read a number of his books since then and dipped into the regular stack of columns and essays Hitchens tirelessly turned out. Even during those times when I found myself disagreeing with his opinions, I was at least certain that Hitchens had considered his views in more depth than most others, myself included.

After his ‘anti-theist’ treatise, God Is Not Great, it became very easy to find audio and video of Hitchens engaging in debate with believers of various faiths. If you haven’t seen him speak and argue, it’s worth your while having a dig around YouTube for some examples. It’s certainly schadenfreude to take pleasure at seeing so many trampled by Hitchens’ reason, rhetoric and encyclopaedic knowledge but I challenge you to feel differently.

Christopher Hitchens died on Thursday, aged 62.

I publish this post, slightly self-consciously. What right do I have to join the mass of tributes? Unearned—and, if I’m honest, somewhat selfish—though my own feelings may be, however, I’m saddened by Hitchens’ death. That the world spins on is irrefutable. That it is diminished in some way seems, to me a least, equally certain.


Posted on | December 16, 2011 | 4 Comments

From time to time I venture a toe into the waters of comics. I’m not really a super-hero type of guy and have neither the interest or energy to try to figure out what’s happening in whichever universe is currently en vogue, so much of the genre—certainly from the Big Two—is pretty much lost on me. Luckily though, my brother is well-versed in most things ‘comic’ and I’m able to get occasional recommendations, or even sneakily borrowed books, from him.

Even more occasionally, he’ll go and do something incredibly generous that makes me temporarily forget his awful, terrible, black-sheep status. Like this:

At a recent comic-con (I believe that’s what they’re called in the geek vernacular) he got me a copy of Hellraisers by Robert Sellers and Jake. Hellraisers is a sort of graphic biography of Richard Burton, Richard Harris, Oliver Reed and Peter O’Toole. Since these four are among the most splendid of bastards to ever have graced this foetid planet, this gift was enough to fill me with unbridled less-grumpiness.

However, the icing on the cake was that he’d got the thing signed by the writer (Robert Sellers) and had the artist (Jake) do a little doodle of Peter O’Toole for me (O’Toole is the most splendid of those most splendid bastards, in my opinion).

There it is… Look.

Click to embiggen the wonderful sketch of O’Toole smoking jauntily.

All those times I’ve collected the brother from police stations and dubious, back-street bars with naked poultry beckoning at passers-by from the windows have been worth it.

Kindle Swindle

Posted on | November 9, 2011 | 2 Comments

I’ve been in ‘streamlining’ mode of late, getting rid of a lot of old books and whatnot. It got me thinking about the benefits of a Kindle so I started researching.

While I was checking out Kindle hardware, Amazon kindly recommended a Kindle-format book that I’ve been planning to buy. It would cost me €7.71 to have the relevant zeroes and ones beamed to my Kindle (if I had one).

To compare, I popped to The Book Depository (where I buy a sizeable chunk of my books) to find I could get the actual, physical, hold-it-in-your-mitts, dead-tree version of the very same book shipped to my door for €6.37. And when I’m done with that, I can loan it to a friend or bring it to a second-hand book shop or use it to start fires in government buildings.

It seems unlikely I’ll be getting a Kindle this Christmas. I don’t feel I’m being unrealistic with this—I understand that there are people all along a book’s production chain that need to buy baked-beans and fingerless-gloves and stuff but it’s hard to shake the assumption that providing a virtual copy of a book should be, at least, a little cheaper than printing one and having a postman deliver it to another country. I tried pricing a few other books with very similar results.

“Pah!” I snort.

Get your head out of your arse, Amazon.

Or am I missing something?


@timmaughan pointed out that I am missing something. Namely that it’s the publishers setting these costs and forcing them on Amazon. This seems quite believable but it seems odd that the largest vendor of both physical books and ebooks in the world (ok, I’ve just assumed that fact but I’d put some money on it being the case) can’t bring a bit more clout to negotiations. As we digest this new information, let me close the update with:

Get your heads out of your arses, Amazon and the publishing industry. I’m a freakin’ book-snob yet I’m thinking of buying a Kindle. I’d have scoffed, scoffingly, if you’d told me that a couple of years ago. There’s no way, however, that I’m putting my book-snootiness aside just to pay more money for something that has no physical presence outside of some transistor-states. Whoever is at fault for this stupidity doesn’t matter. The end result is the same to consumers like me—we’re not buying a Kindle.

Siri and I

Posted on | October 30, 2011 | 3 Comments

It’s possible Siri and I may not get along.

Our relationship just started today and we’ve already had an argument. This is how it ended.

I kind of admire its moxie, though.

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Gerry Hayes

Gerry Hayes

I mostly sit around all day and drink tea. Occasionally, I write stuff and send it to strangers so they can humiliate me and deride my efforts. Other than the self-harm to dull the shame of failure, it's not a bad life. Like I say, there's tea.

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