Au revoir

posted by Lyle.

As D Said before, that’s me done for the week. There may be another one added on Saturday, depending on my nearness to anything even vaguely internet-based, but as it is I’ve posted this to be shoved up when someone publishes over the weekend.

Many thanks to Mike for trusting me/us with his site – I can only hope that we’ve proved worthy of the trust. Without wanting to sound like an Oscar® acceptance, it takes a huge amount of bravery to relinquish control of your site for a week – let alone a month – and allow random strangers loose on it. Personally, I think that this week has gone pretty well, and offered a pretty good cross-section of subjects – I hope the following weeks guests can carry the baton.

Thanks again, Mike, and to all those who’ve read and commented on our TD-or-not-TD posts. (Sorry, couldn’t resist the final pun…)


posted, definitely only once, by qB

Update OK it’s back to one again. Maybe I should stay off the lemsip-benilyn cocktails.

I have no idea why there are three sets of sprog below. There’s only one in the “manage posts” and I really, seriously, only published it once.

Mike, I’m so sorry. I’m never going to touch another person’s blog again. All I do is break them. Sigh.

The joy of sprog

(posted by qB)

I have been inspired by Lyle’s thoughts on progeny to take a look at the topic from the issued side. But before getting on with that, here’s one of the advantages: you can have lots of model vans about the place without people thinking you’re a bit strange. Of course they don’t know that the children aren’t allowed to play with them.

That yellow one on the left hand side is a model of an old-fashioned Swiss mail van, provided by the lovely Swiss M. Now on to the sprogs.

I was never, ever, absolutely never going to have children. I knew that from an early age. For reasons that had to do with my own childhood. One of the last things my mother said, before I stopped seeing her, was as a woman with a baby passed us in the street. “I do so long to hold a baby in my arms again” she said. “If I ever have children I shan’t let them anywhere near you” I blurted out. I remember wondering, as I bent down to unlock my bicycle, if that look on her face was really one of hurt. It would have been the only time.

So, I got married once, on the condition that we would never have children. Luckily he got a job in the States and I had an affair with someone else so that was that.

Both my children are accidents. The first’s father had just been diagnosed with cancer. Is there such a thing as a pity f*ck? He was a deeply unpleasant, manipulative, mendacious person, and I left. But I could not bring myself to have an abortion. Quite apart from the fact that I was living in a country where it was illegal anyway. In the end, late in the pregnancy, I came back to the UK to have the baby.

While I was pregnant I obviously had times of terrible, indigestion-inducing fear – that the baby would look just like its father, that I wouldn’t be able to love it. That a child in the womb that had experienced such fear, and the extreme anxiety and anger that the behaviour of his father caused me to feel, would somehow be affected by the sloshing round of the chemicals of these emotions.

When he was born, when I saw him for the first time, the ecstasy that I felt was piercing, electric, transfiguring, a jolt of joy. I have never felt anything similar, before or since. Better than the best sex, better than the highest heights of happiness, than the lurch of love. Of course it could be explained by a sudden rush of hormones, or similar deterministic mechanism. Whatever. My second feeling (first thought, probably) was deep sorrow on his behalf that being, as I had just discovered, a boy, he would never be able to have the transforming experience I had just undergone.

Some women don’t feel this at all. Some women do, but later. I didn’t feel it with b2 until quite a bit later. (b2 had his birthday recently – count backwards and you’ll get to new year’s eve. No pity there, just lots of alcohol and a really big bed.)

No doubt people choose to have children, and choose not to have children, for as many different reasons as there are people. Many are unable to make the choice. I know children of single parents who have chosen to be single, children whose parents are both gay men, others whose parents are both lesbians, and one where the parents (male and female) are both gay. And of course all the biological/non-biological permutations that go with it. Not to mention all loops and layers of divorce, remarriage, step-siblings, -parents and other familial reorganisations.

Children, ultimately, are very resilient. I don’t have a big thing about biology. As far as I’m concerned the child’s parents are the primary care givers, those who are around on a day-to-day, doing the day-to-day things. In other words doing the parenting. But whoever cares for them, the child has to know that they are wanted. No matter how they arrived and into what circumstances, the important thing is that they are loved. Unconditionally. Yes, the L word. Lurve. No strings. L-O-V-E.

Now to the full version of the Larkin:

This Be The Verse

They f*ck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

But they were f*cked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another’s throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don’t have any kids yourself.

Philip Larkin (1974)

Now Mr Larkin is perfectly entitled to his view, and since I’m the sort of person who’s cup is always half empty, you might have thought that I would share it. But I don’t. I remember sitting with my beautiful baby in my arms, with tears rolling down my face, and saying to my father “look – he’s so perfect, and the world is such a wicked place” and he said, without even pausing for thought “but maybe he will be one who makes the world a better place”.


posted by Lyle.

Following on from the post I wrote about Issue and children, I’ve been thinking about a couple of other things – mainly about the pigeon-holing that people do, and how we perceive people.

All through my life, people have assumed I’m gay – not necessarily through actions, or stereotypical appearance, just an assumption. Yes, I can camp it up with the best of them, I’ve had the relationships, and the conflicts, and all the rest of the in-between stuff – but the simple fact is, I’ve never had to come out, purely because everyone’s assumed it anyway. And I’m not gay – I’ve always identified myself as bi, which has it’s own pros and cons. Mainly cons, actually.

Bi is another pigeon-hole. Along with a whole range of others – if there’s one thing humanity is really bloody good at, then pigeon-holing is it. To some it equates with “undecided”, to others it’s “keeping options open”, or “refusing to commit to one or the other”. I’ve even been accused of sitting on the fence before, of not making the decisions, Fact is, the decision was made, it was the truth – maybe it still is – and it was made harder by both gay and straight worlds. Not that I resent it one little bit – but let’s not go overboard on the entire equality thing, OK?

Eight years ago now, Peter, my partner of the time, committed suicide. Somewhere along the line, he’d picked up HIV, and couldn’t face a future with those letters attached to it. He couldn’t accept the assumptions that were made, that would be made about him because of them. Somehow, I didn’t get infected – that’s sod’s law. In many ways I’ve grieved that piece of “luck”, I’ve wished things could be different, the situations reversed, or at least shared. I’ve resented him, and still think it was a bullsh*t way out, a coward’s excuse. But still he died, and that was something that – without being Mills and Boon about it – destroyed a large part of me. I haven’t been with a man since – I haven’t wanted to. That’s not an assumption, I’ve tried, I’ve considered it, and it no longer holds any appeal at all.

And now we come to the present day. After eight years of only being with one sex, can I truly consider myself to be bi? Is it, perhaps, time to come out as being straight – or should I bide my time more, let other people live with their assumptions, keep my own little pigeon-hole well appointed and with some wide open space outside it? Is it time for the changing of the perceptions?

I don’t know why this guest-blogging stint has been making me think about this kind of thing again – but I’m glad it has. Part of it, I suppose, is the idea of being in a new forum, a different place – there’s a sense of remove, that while I’m obviously still linked to d4d™, I’m not at d4d™. There’s a difference in there somewhere, although I’ll be damned if I know exactly what it is.

What does the future hold? I have no idea. All I know is that the more I can play with assumptions, the more I can mess with the pigeonholes, the happier I will be. I don’t want to fit in with other people’s perceptions, and if (as posted below) I were to end up with children, I wouldn’t want them to have assumptions made about them, even by their parents.

Things I Like About Blogging. Pt 3.

Posted by Robin.
(Start with Part 1 here. If you wish.)


I got hooked when young. I suppose it must have started with the article I wrote for Punch when I was nineteen. It was a hilarious account of a recent cycling trip to France titled ‘One man went to Meaux’. It explored among other things the nature and depth of the misunderstandings made possible by not speaking very good French in France. I submitted it regularly for five months but they never published it.

Blogging has finally given me the chance to prove them wrong.

Issue and Progeny

posted by Lyle (still haven’t forgotten that bit)
Updated and edited 10/10/03

As Mike pointed out in his introduction, I’m the only one of this week’s guest bloggers who’s childless. I’ve been thinking about this kind of appelation all week now, and trying to write this on and off all day – I think we’re on revision 4.2 5.3 now.

So yes, as yet I haven’t scared the world by putting forward offspring. I haven’t found anyone who’d be psychotic enough to want kids with me either. That’s fine – and completely understandable. I’ve helped bring up the brats children of friends etc., although obviously that’s no real comparison with the real thing.

Do I want children? Yeah, at some point. I know it’d turn my life upside-down, and I don’t know completely how well I’d cope with that – but I’d want to do it. Would I have done it ten years ago (as a random figure)? Probably not. I might have wanted to, but I’m 99% sure it would never have worked out properly. I’m too bloody independent – well, I always way, and to some degree I still am. I just laughingly think I handle it in a slightly more mature way now.

All the people who know me out in reality tend to agree that I’d be a good parent – personally, I suspect that’s because my mental age isn’t much different to a childs anyway, and that always helps in the grand scheme of things. Oscar Wilde said “Children begin by loving their parents; after a time they judge them; rarely, if ever, do they forgive them.” – and there’s more truth in that than most people care to admit. We all have our own idiosyncracies, and when children are involved too, then those idiosyncracies can be passed on. Phillip Larkin’s observation, “They f**k you up, your mum and dad” was also spot-on, but there should’ve been the proviso there – “they do it with the best intentions“. I spent a long time disagreeing with my own parents about their ways of dragging me up – yet more and more I find it harder to pick fault, because (without wanting to sound like a big-headed twerd) I think that in general I’ve turned out OK. Seeing some of the denizens of things like C4’s “Wife Swap“, they definitely could’ve done a lot worse than the way I ended up.

Of course, as Jann observed in his “joys of parenthood” everyone knows “their child will be perfect” while it’s all a theoretical exercise. It’s only when they become reality that the chuff-ups are there, and legion.

When it comes to the joys of sproglets, I’m kind of stuck for an answer – maybe one day I’ll find one. In the meantime, I’m going to post this up, and probably come back to it and edit it in the morning, because I know I’m gibbering like a gibbon. Joy. But there’ll be at least one corollary post to this tomorrow. Something else that needs to be said – or at least deserves to be said. I just need to think of the way to word it.

Au revoirs and Slaters (as they say in EastFrienders)

Posted by Mr.D.

Well, my shift here is almost at an end, so I’d like to thank the TD for the opportunity of reaching a wider audience, and to my fellow guestees for being so inspirational. They have been damn good, haven’t they? “Popeyedol” – that’s brilliant, Robin.

Good luck to the incoming crew. Sorry about the unwashed cups and dirty plates, but none of us would put on the French Maid’s outfit that Mike left out. That was from your Ac-tor’s wardrobe, wasn’t it Mike? Wasn’t it?

And now that I no longer have to suck up to our host, for fear of redundancy, I’d like to state publicly that Lyle has for some time been my favourite Blogranter.

So as my Tag-chess challenge failed to fly, a final gauntlet is thrown down and I hope that D4D (and maybe you) will accept.

I first piloted this over at BW’s and was promptly told to get a blog of my own. Nonetheless, as a quasi-post, she may consider some of your entries for a sub-chapter in “The Blogger’s Dictionary:

Rantwords e.g.

Restaurant – an eaterie where you complain endlessly about the poor service (after you’ve left)
Colourant – a whinge peppered with salacious adjectives
Vagrant – a moan which meanders aimlessly
Expectorant – a very vocal grumble where the topic eventually coughs up at the end
Tolerant – a tirade which is nonetheless considerate of its subject’s sensitivities
Immigrant – a foreign diatribe

There must be others? Go on, watch the CommentsMeter ratchet up …

So my work here is done and I’m off to U-Bar-Ka for a bevy. If you’ve never been there before, just follow the sign, don’t jump the queue and order your drink politely. The landlady loves to see new faces among the regulars, but she’s been running the shop single-handedly this week, so a “please” and a smile would not go amiss.

Perhaps if I manage to get 5 virgin punters to visit (that’s people who have not drunk there before, not people who have never, you know…) they might have a Guest Ale ready for this week’s fillers-in? Maybe a pint of mead, made from The Coven’s honey?

Oh, and a word of warning – don’t touch the pies, They’re not actually for sale. Trust me on this.

Mahalo for reading this week.

Another shameless attempt to pick up the evening comments rush.

Posted by Robin. (Remembered it first time this time.)

I was fascinated by Mike’s researches into the history of pop music and gratified to read his conclusion that the 70’s ranked top for classic singles. That somehow confirmed my gut feelings on the subject.

So what it is that is so unsatisfying about modern pop records then? I’ve given it a lot of thought and it’s the most difficult question I’ve had to answer since, while living as a student in a house devoid of anyone named Neville, the phone rang and someone asked “Neville wouldn’t be there, would he?”

I think I may have found a piece of the puzzle today, fished out from under the sofa cushions of my mind. It’s that records have simply ceased to be real time, real world events. Everything can now be revised or replaced or virtually generated. Anything is possible so nothing is interesting. In all, modern records are like cartoons – flat, unreal, worked over in such detail that nothing natural or spontaneous survives. If records were made to sound like Roobarb and Custard looked that might not be so bad but they aren’t.

So, if records get to be cartoons then which cartoon characters do you think should get to make records?

Ecchoes (they reverberate)

(cross-posted by qB whose cold is now flu and is not up to much today)

Today is National Poetry Day

The Ecchoing Green

The Sun does arise,
And make happy the skies.
The merry bells ring
To welcome the Spring.
The sky-lark and thrush,
The birds of the bush,
Sing louder around,
To the bells chearful sound.
While our sports shall be seen
On the Ecchoing Green.

Old John with white hair
Does laugh away care,
Sitting under the oak,
Among the old folk,

They laugh at our play,
And soon they all say.
Such shuch were the joys.
When we all girls & boys,
In our youth-time were seen,
On the Ecchoing Green.

Till the little ones weary
No more can be merry
The sun does descend,
And our sports have an end:
Round the laps of their mothers,
Many sisters and brothers,
Like birds in their nest,
are ready for rest;
And sport no more seen,
On the darkening Green.

William Blake,
Songs of Innocence and Experience

egIf you click on the leafy shape at the top left of this page you can listen to Allen Ginsburg singing the poem. As well as three other people of whom I have never heard. It’s quite a surreal experience.

The theme Britain. I chose this because it’s been with me most of my life, probably from not long after I finally learnt how to read at a very late age. It was in an old illustrated anthology of poems for children which was handed down to me by my mother. Of course it’s not specifically about Britain, but I thought I could sneak it in because Blake never left the country and was passionate about his homeland.

I have always loved the deceptive simplicity of the rhythms and imagery of The Ecchoing Green. I also looked at the illustration of the children being embraced by their mothers with a fair amount of longing. Together they capture those long-lit days of summer when we roistered round the village. I could feel the grass, the trees, the stones, with that whole-body physical abandon with which children experience the world.

Not far from our house in inner-suburban-London there is a small park. We pass it every day on the way to school. At this time and in this place we have just such an ecchoing green. No matter that the mothers are in lycra with mobiles. No matter that the children play games based on pokemon or teenage mutant ninja turtles. Or barbie or the powerpuff girls. It is the fundamental continuity that is reassuring in a world which often seems so full of uncertainties, difficult choices, information overload, cynicism and despair. All that has changed in the dynamics of the picture are the ephemera. My children gain comfort and reassurance from me (and I from them) in exactly that tableau.

When I was a child I was a child in the poem. Now I am a mother I can be both. And now too I can look forward with hope in this continuum to the consolations of old age.

The anthology was called The Dragon Book of Verse – not the edition from the OUP but an older collection, published in 1939. It’s been lost, of course, in all the wanderings and dissolutions, which is sad. The smell of it was slightly sharp, acidic almost, the paper yellowed. The hardback covers were red. I remember so many of the poems: Tartary by Walter de la Mare for the lines And in my pools great fishes slant Their fins athwart the sun; Cargoes by John Masefield; The Fairies by William Allingham; Up-Hill by Christina Rossetti; The Pied Piper of Hamelin by Robert Browning – I could go on and on, but you get the idea.

I memorised many of them, learning them like incantations, caressing the multicoloured jewel-words, sounding the sonority, riding the rhythm. It must be where words and I met and our love affair began. So I have my mother to thank for that.

Oh, dear.

Posted by Mr.D

It seems that my tag-chess challenge has fallen at an early hurdle and no-one wants to play with BW. Despite the fact that she resourcefully spent all knight nosing out the necessary notation (which I so ungallantly failed to provide).

Now I had harboured hopes that, in years to come, some bemused bloggers would still be trawling through endless posts, trying to track the plots and mapping the moves onto a virtual chessboard. I guess some kites will always decide to launch in the middle of an anti-cyclone..

But wait, doesn’t Vaughan sometimes have a chess board on his randomiser? Might there be a role for him here, sat patiently next to the King, waiting to make her sinuous and subtle move?

Or is there another dark horse stalking out there, ready to seize the reigns?
(k)night, queen, reign – is my imagery wasted here?

Oh well, just go and type “pawn” into a search engine and see what you get.

Busman’s holiday.

(posted by Mike)

Salut, mes copains imaginaires! Mike here, comin’ atcha live and direct from a Café Internet on the Boulevard de Sebastapol, in the heart of stylish and historic Paris, struggling valiantly with this battarde of a French AZERTY keyboard (though God knows I’ve had enough practice over the last couple of days) and trying not to get too stressed out by the little ticking hourglass thingy in the bottom right hand corner of the screen telling me I’ve only got 40 minutes left to do my stuff.

I am of course well aware that a blogger coming all the way to stylish and historic Paris only to cloister himself away in a Café Internet is pretty much on the same level as an American tourist heading staight to Macdonalds for his Royale Cheese. Mea culpa. But there was a good reason for this. As qB says below, one of her conditions for guest blogging this week was that I would promise to visit the Atelier Brancusi, just next to the Pompidou Centre. I didn’t need much persuading, mind; the AB has been top of my Paris Must Do list for far too long already.

Well, qB – I tried, I really tried. After two fairly ghastly days at work, a dose of high culture was exactly what my frazzled out little brain was crying out for. Open till 22:00, it said in the book – no, books. And website, last time I looked. No sweat, then. Until I actually got there, and found a sign displaying the new opening hours: 14:00 to 18:00.

So, unless I pull a sickie while I’m out here, (and oh, the irony of that particular realisation, having been suffering quite badly all week, aches and pains all over the shop, plus toothache and a largely sleepless night on Monday) I’m stuffed. Zut a-sodding-lors, eh readers?

Tant pis. It’s not really been my week, tourist-wise. After dinner on Monday night, I made the short stroll round the corner to the Tour Eiffel, just in time to see the much-vaunted twinkly light display come on (it’s on the hour, every evening for a few months, and lasts ten minutes). Having thrilled to this for, ooh, a good two minutes, (because at the end of the day, it’s just a bunch of twinkly lights coming on and off at random, and the thrill quickly palls – I mean, it’s hardly the lasers on the main dancefloor at Turnmills) I decided that I might as well go up the thing. Rude not to.

Last time I’d done this was in the summer of 1981, when I was a penniless backpacking student, visiting the city with a now estranged friend who went on to become a highly influential Guru Of Branding, no less (we drifted apart after he got a job in media sales and moved to Wandsworth, around the same time that I was entering my (relatively) hardcore mid-eighties Right On phase, but I digress). Being penniless and all, we had only been able to afford the Premier Étage – hey, the summit would have been lunch – but now, being a fully paid up member of the jet-setting business eurotrash classes and all, I could afford to go all the way to the top. Chouette, eh readers?

The thrill of being at the wind-blown summit of the Tour Eiffel, gazing out at the breathtaking beauty of Paris By Night, spread out below me like a million sparkling candles on a counterpane of midnight blue etc etc etc insert-descriptive-prose-here, was somewhat dampened by the rapidly creeping realisation that I was – not to put too fine a point on it – busting for a sodding piss, after that nice demi of Beaujolais in the picturesque little café-bar earlier.

If you suddenly find yourself desperate for a slash in a public place, then there are few worse places to be than at the top of the Tour Eiffel. I mean, think about it (except, I hadn’t until then). Where exactly is all that water going to go?


Well, time’s up. A bientot, chums…

The Blogosphere – A Personal View Pt 2.

Posted by Robin. I keep forgetting to put that too.

There seem to be more witty names for blogs than for anything else on the planet apart from hairdressers. Unfortunately good catchy names are about as reliable a guide to a good read as witty salon names are a guarantee of a good haircut.

I had a cracking selection of blog names from my adventures on’s Ten Most Recent list but the powercut of last month wiped my browser’s favourites list. I had a large collection of blogs called ‘my life’ and a good few called ‘my so called life’, all with slightly different orthography. I started looking for one called ‘my so called blog’ but none turned up.

Any blogaholics among you could try Blogger’s main list. With around 5,000 blogs to choose from on any one show even the most ravenously curious should find something new.

Some shout outs.

Respect to qB for that lovely picture of the mixer tap. We have a Gribagno Custom Deluxe very like that but in chrome.

Respect to Mr D. because he obviously does crosswords and has friends and is fifty, which is a tricky treble to pull off.

Respect to Lyle for not swearing for three days now, for finding someone else to do some obscenity for him on another (v funny) page, and also for his comment (#7) here.

And lastly, respect to Nigel, a man of such scrupulous fairness that he only comes ninth in his own blog chart

Following on from Lyle’s post below. I am actually prepared to offer a prize to anyone who can explain RSS to me in one amusing paragraph. On reflection I am prepared to offer a prize to anyone who can explain it to me at all.

Lastly Adam at arpeggio has just bought Trout Mask Replica by Cap’n Beefheart and is not quite sure what to make of it. Can anyone help him?


Posted by Lyle (who can’t edit the keffing table below, so I’ll suggest to qB what she can do with it – in a clean sense, of course *Grin*)

OK, I admit, while being a techie to some degree, I’m obviously not a blog-geek (is that a word we can add to the dictionary?) because I’ve lost the plot of where I’m supposed to Ping. When I update, I use blogrolling’s Ping form – fine, that boings up on all the blogrolls I look at. I’ve registered d4d™ on Updated UK Weblogs three times now, and had assumed it was working, as Mike hadn’t nagged me to do it again. I guess he just gave up in despair, or wanted to avoid a sweary-fit email. *Grin* Can’t blame him for that one. Also I’ve got Blogger set to ping somewhere or other when a new entry goes up. Yet still I get nagged. So where am I going wrong?

I’ve just tried it again. Keff knows if it’s worked or not, because all it says is “you’ve been added”, then nothing. I can’t be faffed with gubbins like RSS – I’ve enough problems with incipient RSI and CTS, without another flippin’ TLA to PMO.

Anyway, isn’t it all just more of this “instant gratification” farce that we know and love? “I can’t be faffed to actually click on the site to see if there’s anything new, I want it to show up only when there’s new things to read”. Surely that’s antithetical to the entire ethos of “surfing” the web, of finding stuff on almost a random whim and click of the mouse?

Oh, and congratulations to us guest-bloggers who’ve lowered the tone completely – what with the book reviews I linked to, and qB erecting what I can only describe as a golden phallus. (I could describe it as other things, but the naughty word filters would probably throw a hissy fit. On which tangent – wouldn’t it be more fun if the filters didn’t just block the offending sites, but instead did a 1940’s “naffing great black felt-tip” over the words?)

Why I’m here

(posted by qB – who‘s broken broke the template with her table and doesn’t know what to do… Lyle… I need help! botched a bad solution) found a solution courtesy of Lyle’s advice – thanks!)

brancliciousI said I’d do this gig on two conditions.

The first was that Mike has to go to the Atelier Brancusi while he’s in Paris. No ifs, no buts.

The second was that Lyle gets D4D onto Updated UK Weblogs. But I’ve since noticed that condition could be extended to all three co-bloggers this week. It’s quite simple, and Mike provides a handy link, over there on the right.

I’m not going to threaten to withhold posts until this condition is fulfilled because that would be inviting the kind of feedback I’m not interested in hearing.

In an effort to galvanise Mike further to make the effort to see the exhibition, I’ve included to the left the delightful Princess X by my all time far-and-away top favourite sculptor of all time, Constantin Brancusi.

What do you mean, it doesn’t look like a princess? I have no idea what you’re talking about.