Friday, March 02, 2007

Thin Lizzy / Warwick For Sale

Thin Lizzy

God, I feel pissed off. The only thing that has kept me going this week is listening to an old Thin Lizzy tape in the car.

The live version of Cowboy Song segued into The Boys Are Back (In Town) is absolutely awesome. It makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end.

It has been a very strange week. The day-job has been rather unpleasant. Why does office work always seem to end in bitching and backbiting? I merely want to get on with my life. I have no time for all of that office politics and nastiness. It leaves me feeling overworked, unappreciated and utterly demoralised.

I have the desire and need to quit Leamington, although it has been better in the Leamington Garret than for a long time. My new flatmate Attila and I spend quite a lot of chatting in the living room, in between reading and writing on our computers. Attila is a gentle, pleasant and intelligent man, and excellent company.

Having broadband in the flat has made a huge difference to our lives there. The internet replaces television. For other entertainment we play records, tapes and CDs through Attila's computer and Ruthie Boswell's classic music system.

Still, it does not stop me from feeling miserable and homesick. I took Wednesday off to attend a first interview for a good job in London. Then their offices were flooded so I had to do the interview by telephone from the Leamington Garret!

The interview lasted an hour and a half. I was very well prepared and had all my notes and papers around me. It did, however, seem very odd to be doing a formal first interview for a big job while in those surrounds. The table I was working on was in the same room and next to where some dreadful, violent things had happened just a few months earlier.

All the same the interview went well and I am hopeful of moving on to the next stage, and - just possibly - staging a 'jailbreak' from Leamington by the Summer. I can hardly believe I have been in the Leamington Garret for more than 12 months now (and what a year!)

It has been a difficult and irritating time. Blogspot has been revamped so I can no longer use it on my Apple Mac. It is a pain. As a result I will probably not be able to publish this until I get back to the Leamington Garret in a couple of weeks.

For the next fortnight I doing jury service. It is not a good time for it, what with my troubles at the day-job and interviews possibly coming up. But, at least, I suppose it will get me out of the office (although I am going to monitor my email remotely to keep up to speed and give me some radar on any possible dangers on the horizon).

I am in one of those moods where I question why I do almost anything. So much of life's activity seems utterly futile. The whole economic system is based on people working for no good reason. Useful work is rare and generally poorly paid. A lot of public sector work, for instance, is a complete and utter waste of time. Yet salaries in senior public positions (almost by definition the least useful) continue to go through the roof.

The other lunchtime, I was walking through Jephson Gardens in Leamington Spa in a state of depression. As I was approaching the cafe, I saw a very worn penny on the ground and stooped to pick it up. A lady sitting outside in the sunshine remarked on this, and I responded: 'You have it - it will bring you luck!'

I got a coffee and sat down to chat to her. She was troubled over her housing situation, and sat puffing away on her cigarette. Somehow, we got talking about poetry and, like almost everyone I meet, found she writes poetry.

The Lady in the Park has since sent me two poems, one by her daughter and one, Personality Disorder by her. It is rather good. Follow the link to read it or go to Oliver's Poetry.

She also said in her missive that she had been sitting in the park thinking how easy it would be to throw herself into the River Leam in an attempt to end it all. Generously, she said that me giving her the penny for luck had cheered her up.

On the comedy front, there was a cracking night at the Reckless Moment in Leamington, a great bill headlined by a ferociously funny Australian comic called Jim Jeffries. In the same vein as fellow Aussie Brendon Burns, Jeffries is a no-holds-barred stand-up and not someone a sane person would try to heckle (so why did a couple of people have a go?).

I remember seeing him playing a free venue at the Edinburgh Fringe a few years back and thinking he was very talented. Jim Jeffries' act is perfectly formed now - he's grown into a star.

Conversely, I went to a terrible comedy show at the Pelham Arms, in Lewes. The compere was cracking gags as old as the hills and making appalling puns. With his fag and his pint, he looked like he had come through a time tunnel from the 1970s show The Comedians.

The other two acts were a woman who sang filthy lyrics to nursery rhymes and did a deliberately bad stand-up character (which the audience didn't realise was a character), and a bloke who did anorak and film critic characters. What they lacked in originality they did not make up for in execution.

It reminded me of the disastrous night at my former club Joe's Comedy Madhouse at which a then colleague at CNN turned up totally drunk, did an appalling film critic character, terrified all the other comedians (some even ran away) and got Joe's Comedy Madhouse branded: 'London's worst comedy club!'

However, well done to the Pelham Arms, Lewes, for giving stand-up comedy a try. All comedy is good in some way! I shall certainly be going there again!

Comedians are most adept at publicising themselves. I was reminded of this while surfing MySpace this week where there are thousands of them. MySpace is horribly addictive. After writing job applications, I get drawn to it.

With the MySpace edition of Oliver's Poetry, my rule is that I will not accept 'friends' who I have not met. I broke it this week when a children's author asked to be my MySpace buddy.

It is certainly true the internet is changing the nature of friendship. Just think of all the people who now spend their evenings online within the MySpace virtual networking world when they could be down the pub meeting and talking with people face to face. In email, people also say things they probably would not in person.

For instance, a friend who has spent years drifting round India (see: Images of India taking black-and-white photos (and shagging other travellers) sent me a short and bizarre email this week saying he likes 'blonde pubes'. If I met him in person, I could not imagine him making such a strange, isolated comment (although even via email it is odd).

By the way I have decided to only blog on a monthly basis. I would love to blog weekly or daily - I find it so addictive - but it is distracting me from writing, publishing and performing poetry. For the limited spare time I have, poetry must come first. I simply haven't time to do everything I would like to.

It is all a bit depressing. I have been reading a Rumpole of the Bailey omnibus to get into the spirit of doing jury service for the next couple of weeks. And, as I said at the beginning of this piece, Thin Lizzy's Live and Dangerous album has been keeping me going. I used to have a book called something like The Poems of Phil Lynott.

Lynott, Thin Lizzy's lead singer, who died of a drugs overdose in 1986, was in truth not a good poet. His lyrics were not poetic in the way, for instance, Bob Dylan's are. But he was a fanastic performer, and listening to my tape I almost felt I was there in the concert hall with him as he delivered the Cowboy Song like Irish nectar and then immediately belts out the The Boys Are Back In Town.

With these mingled, confused, probably unhelpful thoughts I head into jury service, determined to do my duty.

The worst of it is that for at least two weeks I have not written a line of poetry. Here's Thin Lizzy...

'I am just a cowboy, lonesome on the trail, The coyote call and the howling winds wail...'

P.S. I have just heard I have been given second interview for a good job I applied for.

Warwick For Sale (Flashback to Monday, 16 January 2006

The landlady is selling the Warwick Garret!

I only found out when I returned from the day-job tonight to find a 'For Sale' sign up on the house. I suspect my housemate had an inkling of this last week but was shielding me from the bad news.

It is a body blow! After the hardship of living for nine months in a woodshed in Leicestershire, being in the Warwick house is amazingly comfortable.

I love it on St Nicholas Church Street opposite the magnificent church and almost next to Warwick Castle, with the bells ringing out at night. Now I shall either have to find a bedsit, a Bed & Breakfast or another abode with my housemate.

It is a crying shame. I have been happy here living in the shadow of Warwick Castle and I shall miss it.

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