Friday, 24 February 2012

Gone To The Dogs

I was in the pub the other night watching a dog licking its arse like fury when its owner lifted it from the floor and holding it to her face gave it a big kissy-wissy-wiss. The dog, dutifully playing it's part as man's best friend, kissed her back, lapping its long pink tongue around her mouth and chops. 'Good boy!' she crowed, shaking him. 'He loves his mummy doesn't he?' Indeed he did, then wanting stimulation elsewhere she plonked the animal down again, whereupon it resumed teasing worms from the orifice that tormented it.

Not that I hadn't seen similar before but beered up I had to protest. 'One moment your dog is licking its arse and the next you're kissing it!' The gin and tonic shrugged, 'So what?' I went to add, 'Why don't you kiss its arse as well, and mine too while you're about it?' but decided otherwise. Drop it. End of subject. Serve the silly cow right if she gets canine toxocara and goes blind. So another one of life's mysteries, as if there aren't enough to be held at bay in the pub.

We love our doggies. The relationship is said to go back thousands of years when Canis lupus came to put its trust in man and so guaranteed its survival. Pack animals we both chased the same game, their senses were keener and their legs faster but we were smarter and our spears more effective. They hung around for kill and in doing so gave us warning of approach by night and day. It was only a matter of time before one got on top of the other. Now they get their kill from a can.

If you keep a dog you will have a protector, they bark and they bite burglars too. A cat doesn't give a damn, cats have servants, dogs have masters. Dogs are curious about people in a way cats aren't because they need to know where they fit in. I've noticed when a dog joins a group of people, and you refuse to take notice of it, after everyone has stopped making a fuss of it the odds are the animal will come to you. Only then do you pat it and let it settle beside you. Indifferent to its well-being you must be pack leader. Or it's your magnetic personality.

I have a vivid memory from childhood of two dogs stuck together. Big boys threw buckets of water and hit them with sticks but there was no separating them. I was concerned and frightened. My father saw the bullies off and put my mind at ease. He said, if I remember correctly, 'The one in front has gone blind and his friend is pushing him to the hospital.'

Friday, 17 February 2012

Art With A Capital A

I wonder if you saw Wednesday's headline: "Modern Art Is Rubbish In Barbican's New Show"? A Chinese conceptual artist has shipped over two container loads of his mother's rubbish to put on display. Apparently "it helps us to understand the reality of Chinese history and culture in the 20th century". Fuck off. With a bit of luck a cleaner will shovel it down the chute.

Do you remember the news story about the sculpture left outside a prominent New York gallery? Constructed from rusty cars a passing garbage truck took it away. The happy event came to mind when travellers stole a monumental Henry Moore bronze and sold it for scrap. At least they knew there was value in it. I've seen a lot of Moore's work and I'm confident it won’t be missed. Similarly the Barbara Hepworth that was recently liberated from Dulwich Park. A masterly improvement. One by one they are disappearing.

Like Charles Saatchi's £13,000 head sculpted from frozen blood, builders unplugged the freezer and the work drained away. Next thing porters at Sothebys tore the wrapping off a chair by Christo - he who drapes whole canyons - not knowing the wrapping was the point of the thing. And to trump it all a fire at a London Art warehouse destroyed Tracey Emin’s ‘Tent’, her beach hut and the Chapman brothers 'Hell', along with a ton of similar stuff. They won’t be missed, except by those who bought them, who couldn't bear to live with them and hid them away. Never mind, their pet Artists can easily knock up some more, in fact the Chapmans have already done so, their masterpiece has been resurrected as 'Fucking Hell'.

I subscribe to the view that there's no such thing as Art, there are only well made objects which anyone may enjoy, or not, as they will. A 'Work of Art' didn't exist until the late 18th century, and their delicate appreciation - aesthetics - was invented some fifty years later, thus we are plagued with 'arbiters of taste' and their impenetrable prose. Nonsense, Art is a conspicuous attempt by the elite to elevate themselves above the rest of us. Not that I'm the first to say this, or to contend you won’t find art where you expect to find it, and it won't have Art written on it either. Give me something that entertains or informs the eye, a book illustration or a well taken photograph, a knock out film, more so if it's something the rich can't hang on their walls, or lock away in a bunker.

But I'm a fair man, elsewhere in the newspaper Charles Saatchi proposes swapping some of the nation's Turners for works we don't have. They want our great artists and we want theirs. I love Turner but that is a good idea. Just don't let Mr Moneybags do the choosing.

Friday, 10 February 2012


There are billions of galaxies out there and each one contains billions of stars. You can't take it in even with Brian Cox smiling at you. OK so we've heard it before but now we're told each star has a planetary system like our own - exoplanets - billions of Earths in the so called Goldilocks zone, not too hot, not too cold. Am I surprised? No, I was brought up on science fiction and I've never thought otherwise.

I knew one day we would go to those faraway worlds and find beings living there, aliens with a technology more developed than our own, flying spaceships that far outstripped our poor puny craft. One day. Which rather left me with a problem, because if they were that much more advanced why hadn't they made the reverse trip and come to find us? After all they'd had millions of years to do so. I was baffled. Where are they? No aliens, not one, not anywhere. This is known as Fermi's Problem.

Well Fermi can take a rest because I've solved it for him and here's how. If you lived in a big house and you wanted to hide a large diamond where would you put it? You would hang it in the crystal chandelier, there among a hundred sparkling others no-one would see it nor a searcher think to look. And by the same logic intelligent aliens would hide themselves the same, they wouldn't slink about like ET or hole up in a drain waving their six arms. No, they would shape shift to look like you and me. And that's what they've done. They are here and out of their ships. They walk among us.

I'm serious. I've got proof. But it's hard to copy something as subtle as homo sapiens no matter how clever you are and thus they give themselves away. If your senses are as finely tuned as mine you can spot them, and you almost certainly have, it's just that you've yet to make the connection. I believe it was Socrates who said inside every person there is a human being trying to get out. And so it is with those that walk among us, similar, except inside them there isn't a human being trying to get out but a monster barely restrained.

Somehow I've always known this. The alien officer class are the sociopaths you rub up against in the office, and the crew are the uber-scum you come across on public transport and in the high street. There's something missing. They don't know how to behave. Like the howling Afghan who sells the Big Issue at my railway station! The idiot lunatic who tries to slap me on the back every time I pass him. It's hopeless. I have to dance round him. I've tried everything. Back to your ship bastard! By christ he's going to get it. My mind's made up, it's no good sitting here whingeing. I've had enough. Where are my boots? Soon as I'm dressed I'm going down there and give the c*nt a f*cking good kicking!

Friday, 3 February 2012


The other night we stood outside the pub watching a spider weave its web. The weather's been mild. Round and round it went in a geometrical way. It's not been taught to do that, I say, it's natural. Knowing heads nod. Instinctive, I add before raising the stakes, it's all encoded in their DNA. Mutters of dissent. Well where else can it come from? Answer came there none.

It's a miracle, but so is much of nature, especially at base level. If you want big numbers forget astronomy and take a look at cellular life. Eight million cells die and are replaced in your body every second. Dig into any one of these billions and you'll find a strand of your DNA, it's a small part but were you to stretch it out it would be two metres long. Put the lot together and you'd be in the outer planets. Amused to be 98% chimp? Well you're 30% lettuce too. And more spider. Awesome. You can't believe it but you have to. 

A friend of mine was recently shown a cape in the V&A woven from the silk of the golden orb spider. There was a picture in the papers. He was allowed to feel it too. Luxurious didn't do it justice. The output of a million spiders it weighs one and a half kilos. Imagine spider silk knickers. One day. Arachnids can produce nine different kinds of silks, weight for weight each stronger than steel. The boffins are trying to synthesise the stuff in order to build super light bridges and wide bodied aircraft.

I've read the big spiders you meet at home are at the top of a food chain that has human skin at the bottom. So the next time one of the eight legged blighters makes you jump and you're set to squash it stop, remember you may not only be killing your reincarnated granny but a piece of yourself. Yes you've been recycled. Already. Be merciful, trap granny in a glass and toss her out the window.