The Great Lurch Forward...

Would you take a train with this man? Not bleedin' likely...

Followed by Elena, Pauline, Donald and a very Satanic looking Antonio... the Devil's Undertaker.
Thanks to Dominic for the title and half the photos.

Undertakers' convention... at the Extra Old Cafe after disembarking

Bex gets my vote for "Most likely to be in A Clockwork Orange."

The Great Lurch Forward... photos 1

Seldon, Pauline, Raskolnikov, the Eiffel Tower, Neil, and Raskolnikov again, escaped from a Dostoyevski novel...

Slough by John Betjeman

I grew up near Slough and Maidenhead. Even The Lonely Planet's guidebook to England tells you "Don't go there." I'm with Betjeman. Note he wrote this just prior to World War Two.

Come, friendly bombs, and fall on Slough
It isn't fit for humans now,
There isn't grass to graze a cow
Swarm over, Death!

Come, bombs, and blow to smithereens
Those air-conditioned, bright canteens,
Tinned fruit, tinned meat, tinned milk, tinned beans
Tinned minds, tinned breath.

Mess up the mess they call a town --
A house for ninety-seven down
And once a week for half-a-crown
For twenty years,

And get that man with double chin
Who'll always cheat and always win,
Who washes his repulsive skin
In women's tears,

And smash his desk of polished oak
And smash his hands so used to stroke
And stop his boring dirty joke
And make him yell.

But spare the bald young clerks who add
The profits of the stinking cad;
It's not their fault that they are mad,
They've tasted Hell.

It's not their fault they do not know
The birdsong from the radio,
It's not their fault they often go
To Maidenhead

And talk of sports and makes of cars
In various bogus Tudor bars
And daren't look up and see the stars
But belch instead.

In labour-saving homes, with care
Their wives frizz out peroxide hair
And dry it in synthetic air
And paint their nails.

Come, friendly bombs, and fall on Slough
To get it ready for the plough.
The cabbages are coming now;
The earth exhales.

Night Mail by W.H.Auden

3 extracts:

This is the Night Mail crossing the border,
Bringing the cheque and the postal order,
Letters for the rich, letters for the poor,
The shop at the corner and the girl next door.
Pulling up Beattock, a steady climb:
The gradient's against her, but she's on time.
Past cotton-grass and moorland boulder
Shovelling white steam over her shoulder,
Snorting noisily as she passes
Silent miles of wind-bent grasses.
Birds turn their heads as she approaches,
Stare from the bushes at her blank-faced coaches.
Sheep-dogs cannot turn her course;
They slumber on with paws across.
In the farm she passes no one wakes,
But a jug in the bedroom gently shakes.

Letters of thanks, letters from banks,
Letters of joy from the girl and the boy,
Receipted bills and invitations
To inspect new stock or visit relations,
And applications for situations
And timid lovers' declarations
And gossip, gossip from all the nations,
News circumstantial, news financial,
Letters with holiday snaps to enlarge in,
Letters with faces scrawled in the margin,
Letters from uncles, cousins, and aunts,
Letters to Scotland from the South of France,
Letters of condolence to Highlands and Lowlands
Notes from overseas to Hebrides
Written on paper of every hue,
The pink, the violet, the white and the blue,
The chatty, the catty, the boring, adoring,
The cold and official and the heart's outpouring,
Clever, stupid, short and long,
The typed and the printed and the spelt all wrong.

And shall wake soon and long for letters,
And none will hear the postman's knock
Without a quickening of the heart,
For who can bear to feel himself forgotten?

William Topaz McGonagall

Poet and tragedian of Dundee, has been widely hailed as the writer of the worst poetry in the English language... A self-educated hand loom weaver from Dundee, he discovered his discordant muse in 1877 and embarked upon a 25 year career as a working poet, delighting and appalling audiences across Scotland and beyond.
I nicked this from

The Tay Bridge Disaster

Beautiful Railway Bridge of the Silv'ry Tay!
Alas! I am very sorry to say
That ninety lives have been taken away
On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember'd for a very long time.
'Twas about seven o'clock at night,
And the wind it blew with all its might,
And the rain came pouring down,
And the dark clouds seem'd to frown,
And the Demon of the air seem'd to say-
"I'll blow down the Bridge of Tay."
When the train left Edinburgh
The passengers' hearts were light and felt no sorrow,
But Boreas blew a terrific gale,
Which made their hearts for to quail,
And many of the passengers with fear did say-
"I hope God will send us safe across the Bridge of Tay."
But when the train came near to Wormit Bay,
Boreas he did loud and angry bray,
And shook the central girders of the Bridge of Tay
On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember'd for a very long time.
So the train sped on with all its might,
And Bonnie Dundee soon hove in sight,
And the passengers' hearts felt light,
Thinking they would enjoy themselves on the New Year,
With their friends at home they lov'd most dear,
And wish them all a happy New Year.
So the train mov'd slowly along the Bridge of Tay,
Until it was about midway,
Then the central girders with a crash gave way,
And down went the train and passengers into the Tay!
The Storm Fiend did loudly bray,
Because ninety lives had been taken away,
On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember'd for a very long time.

There's a lot more, believe me.

The Great Lurch Forward

There were no flies on Frank. Pulled out of Nation just after 9 as I read The Tay Bridge Disaster, by the poet "widely hailed as the writer of the worst poetry in the English language," William Topaz McGonagall. (Topaz????) Donald was on the night train. Wanda sang. Elena did Le releve du monde and cooked us up L'oeuf metaphysique. In Spanish, the next station was hope. Alexa laughed at passers by's I'm-going-to-Hell-judgement. Dominic Ambrose read an extract from his book The Shriek and Rattle of Trains. Bex's nature and machine exist together. Chai! Chai! in Nine and half hours to Hampi. Thank God I'm not blonde. Thomas woke up red-eyed, read his Metro Love Letter, declared the metro is the place we all know each other by smell, each guessing the other's intention. Neil & his guitar heard that train a-coming, coming down the tracks. But then he's a Molotov cocktail, baby I'm an anarchist. Seldon was I, racing to trains West. Nila asked why is it that when you see someone that's interesting to you on the metro, why is it rude to look at them? Then she analysed his face. Donald reminded us that Paris a oublié que il était bâtard. À nous, Paris, declared Alexa, à nous des bottes à 2.000 euros. Bex was inspired by an earlier Spoken Word, inspired but she was tired. She wanted a poet, who just might (lick behind her ears.) Frank where are you? There were no flies on Frank, according to the ghost of John Lennon. Other people did stuff too. I insulted Slough and rolled out some boxcars boxcars boxcars from Ginsberg's Howl. The Eiffel Tower glittered. We rolled around Etoile and headed back to Nation where we disembarked and went for a drink at The Extra Old Cafe. No arrests! No fights with buskers! Applause and general appreciation from metronauts (once they realized we weren't asking for money and relaxed...). Only one phone call the next day from poets who missed the train and headed round the whole circuit of the line 6 on their own.
The Shriek and Rattle of Trains, by Dominic, details here:
Lines from Howl:
who chained themselves to subways for the endless ride from Battery to holy Bronx on benzedrine until the noise of wheels and children brought them down shuddering mouth-wracked and battered bleak of brain all drained of brilliance in the drear light of Zoo,

who sang out of their windows in despair, fell out of the subway window, jumped in the filthy Passaic, leaped on negroes, cried all over the street, danced on broken wineglasses barefoot smashed phonograph records of nostalgic European 1930s German jazz finished the whiskey and threw up groaning into the bloody toilet, moans in their ears and the blast of colossal steamwhistles,

who scribbled all night rocking and rolling over lofty incantations which in the yellow morning were stanzas of gibberish...

Back in the UK...

My brother performing his songs at The Acoustic Ballroom in Wallingford, Oxfordshire on Friday evening... And me reading my own stuff.

And now for something completely different...

Train!!! mmmqus
Next Wednesday/mercredi prochaine le 9 avril...
Spoken Word on the metro!

We take the front car in the first metro after 21h00 on the line 6 starting from Nation and going to Charles De Gaulle Etoile. Then back! And round and round we go!
Join us at any station!
A night of Spoken Word on the metro.
Theme: trains, under and overground...

And now for something completely different...
David Fishel dancing through L'Express

Charlie addresses the crowd

Found photos - Arlène, James, Ryley, Anne-Marie, Thomas

Lost...? and Found.

Biggest night we've done yet! Diane Rebelle sent us off with se perdre... se trouver. Gieno had the packed room laughing with a poème by Paul Foct(?). Robert Teetsov sang his songs about love see Miranda told us a sinister and grimly real tale of being followed in the street late at night. Mary hit those piano keys and sang. Pol read C'était bien by Robert Nyel. C'était bien, vraiment. All the new French readers picked stuff that really worked even for struggling anglophones and reminded me how good French can be at rhythmic rhyming poetry. Thomas gave us his sonnet, Voice. Bex took us to the Cemetary. And Alexa dedicated kisses to Serge Gainsbourg, Kiss me again she intoned, while floating away on a raft. Grind me like coffee fine, Make me twitch! You sonnuvabitch! Jessie read The Wordsmith, Arlène read Studio/Grape juice about growing up and things lost and missed, like love and being young and first kisses. James gave us an intense and touching Hair of the Dog. Conor defined what it meant to be Lost. And there were so many more! Alixandra sang Ryley read... I've only mentioned about half the names!

Thanks to all for coming. If anyone has a blog or myspace or something they want linked to on the Community section of this blog, please let me know.

Next week... train!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Lost & Found: mercredi le 2 avril a 21h

Find yourselves o people of The Word, Find yourselves wherever you may be & Walk out of your Lostness through the fertile Void and into

The Ogre à Plumes (49 rue Jean Pierre Timbaud, Métro Parmentier)

where unto you the Truth shall be revealed. All that is lost shall be returned to you!(1) Let me ask you to pause and reflect here, brothers and sisters, as to what it is that you have lost & to what it is that you have found in this city of the end times. This is a night for the reintegration of the disintegrated soul. Mercy on your soul, and if we can't save the soul we can atleast save the body.(2)
Spoken Words in English or French welcome - your own or somebody else's.
Songs and music also welcome.
(1) offer does not apply to a) pets b) your virginity c) that thing your grandmother gave you on her deathbed that you promised to be careful with and then took out one night drinking
(2) probably by pickling it in alcohol. But alternatively by just making you have a good time!

Nonsense 2

Who read - Hall of Fame
Charlie, Syanne, Joanna, Neil, Antonia, Marc, Nico, Thomas, Cassidy, Dand (interesting name) or possibly David (Fishel?), and Conor. The Alice tree performed songs.