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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Albemarle Street, Off Boulevard

Rag and Bone Man's Horse, Airlie Street, Off Boulevard

Graham Avenue, Off Boulevard

Walcott Street

Toadlets, Prince's Quay Shopping Centre

Larkin Toad 18: Punkphibian, Theatre Square, Ferensway

Larkin Toad 17: Eastwest Toad, St Stephen’s Shopping Centre

Larkin Toad 15: Teletoad, Paragon Square

Larkin Toad 10: Larkin Toad, Prince’s Quay Shopping Centre

Larkin Toad 12: Tiger Toad, Maritime Museum

Larkin Toad 26: Weather Rain or Shine Toad, Queen’s Dock Avenue

Larkin Toad 27: Harlequin, Mischievous Man of Mystery Toad, Queen’s Dock Avenue

Larkin Toad 25: Lobelia Toad, Queen’s Gardens

Larkin Toad 8: Neat Toad, Trinity Square

Larkin Toad 13: The Hidden Toad, Paragon Street/Victoria Square

Larkin Toad 21: Kiss Me Quick Toad, Prospect Centre

Larkin Toad 19: Tequila Toad, Ferensway/Spring Bank

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Loud Guffaw

Very seldom can a thought process of mine begin with, One of the good things about my tepidly Catholic upbringing, but here goes: one of the good things about my tepidly Catholic upbringing is the scepticism with which I respond to the great recycle bin of what used to be religion and is now known as ‘spirituality’. I said I had lost my faith, not my self-respect, the young Joyce snapped when accused of forsaking Catholicism for a rival creed. I was reminded of this today reading Stuart Jeffries’ Guardian piece on the search for silence in our noisy world. Some inconsiderate people babble on in the quiet carriage of a train. Mobile phone conversations are had. Ipods are used as aural prophylactics, perhaps with John Cage’s 4’33” turned up to eleven. But help is at hand. He hies himself to a Self Realization Meditation Healing Centre in Somerset, where he learns how to sit still and just ‘be’. He gets in a swimming pool, as I did this morning, except his is a ‘therapy pool’ and mine was just a large hole with some water in it. He does some breathing, as I too have been doing today, except he practises the ‘I am Peace’ breath, whereas I have merely been dilating my nostrils a bit and filling my lungs. Someone comes to his room to take his tray and points to the words ‘I’ve come for the tray’ on a notebook. I’m sure I’m far too quick to quote Slavoj Žižek at moments like this, but here is the Slovenian provocateur on what he terms ‘Western Buddhism’:

It confronts us with the fact that the cause of our suffering is not objective reality—there is no such thing—but rather our Desire, our craving for material things. All one has to do then, after ridding oneself of the false notion of a substantial reality, is simply renounce desire itself and adopt an attitude of inner peace and distance. No wonder Buddhism can function as the perfect ideological supplement to virtual capitalism: It allows us to participate in it with an inner distance, keeping our fingers crossed, and our hands clean, as it were.

{Quotation ends}

In the same way what the peace-breathing retreaters are doing, it seems to me, is participating in the privatisation of meaningful experience. Do you spend your working day flipping burgers and listening to Moron FM? Does the craving for material things such as a roof over your head which ties you to this low-paid job prevent you from taking the train to Somerset to go on a retreat with the spiritually enlightened? Then maybe you should confine your self-healing to a couple of pints of lager down the pub or the Rugby League. Unless of course you live in the Third World, in which case I can come and squat in your hut for a few minutes and admire your wonderful transcendence of material things, such as the aeroplane that brought me to your country. But, really, what could be more confirming of our City jobs, our second homes, our middle-class cuntishness, than sitting in a healing pool somewhere on ‘retreat’ then resuming our wretched lives all topped-up with the knowledge of our inner rectitude? The screeching spiritual feedback from Jeffries’ adventures with Self Realization drowns out any amount of idiotic mobile phone conversations on the morning commuter train or at the checkouts in Asda. Which is why, in the interests of spiritual decuntification, I have decided to start a series of retreats on morning trains and in an Asda branch near you ( booking form and B&B rates to follow). And ps: Zen Buddhist he may have been, but surely Jeffries like just about everyone else has misunderstood John Cage’s 4’33”. It’s about the fact that silence is unobtainable. If you ‘play’ the piece in a concert hall you will be rewarded with the sound of coughing, sweet-papers, nervously shifting audience members etc, and if you go into an anechoic chamber, as Cage did, you will hear the thumping noise of your own pulse and heart. So best just emit a loud guffaw and have done with it. Which would be my suggested response to the spiritual fraudulence of ‘Self Realization’ and all it stands for.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Larkin Toad 35: Hull Poem Toad, Prince's Avenue

Larkin Toad 33: The St George's Toad, St George's Road

Larkin Toad 34: The Carnegie Toad, West Park

Larkin Toad 36: Twinkle Toad, Prince's Avenue

Larkin Toad 31: Topographical Toad, Woodcock Street

Larkin Toad 37: Floral, Pearson Park

On the Trail of the Larkin Toads: No. 32, The Newington Toad, Hawthorn Avenue

Greek Street

Approved Coal Merchant

Thinking About David Jones

Like the figure of his Aphrodite, David Jones intended his art to have both a sacrificial and ecstatic function, a synthesis for which only wartime, it seemed, could provide the necessary conditions of intellectual emergency. The name for the highest form of art in Jones's lexicon was ‘sacrament’. In his essay ‘Art and Democracy’ Jones wrote that if only the beaver would add one superfluous twig to his dam it would become ‘a font’, and ‘the creature would enter the “sign world”’. The form of this ‘sign world’ is the artistic sacrament or anathemata, ‘the things set up’ to affirm and exalt ‘the gods’.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Wild Flowers, Near Lund


The Sahara has shifted
an inch and a continent.

The dune you are standing on,
Ibrahim Ag Alhabib,

is also thousands of miles
from your feet: my windscreen

this morning is coated
in fine desert sand.

Never was shifty heart truer,
or truer to it its far-scattered sons

who touch across oceans of sand.
Among themselves

the Touareg are the Imazighen,
‘the free people’. In Arabic

‘Touareg’ means ‘forsaken by God’.
The sandmen of my youth

are forsaken by the Fassaroe pit,
the last gravel mixed

and the compacted fill
rolled flat. I see again

the brace of wheels
on the weighbridge, the great

engines ticking over,
at bay, and dust

that is no longer sand
in the drivers’ eyes.

I feel its drift, voiceless
and huge, within me,

and know I too
am transported, grain

by grain, and unsigned for,
the docket still in my father’s hand.

Over that brutalized earth
I see the tippers void

the rising clouds of their sandstorms,
a caravanserai

of transients negotiate
sand trails decades since

sand was there:
their mounts departed,

not a Thermos between them,
they and their shallow pits

soon exhausted, tiny-seeming
under the stars.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Found Shark, Staithes

Report of the Hull Borough Asylum for the Year 1885

Courtesy of a most intriguing publication I picked up today, the Report of the Hull Borough Asylum for the Year 1885, a list of grounds for summary detention for feeble-mindedness in the late nineteenth century. Good to see an over-enthusiastic bout of self-abuse could land a man in the madhouse back then, in theory at least, even if the 1885 figures show a deplorable shortfall of lunatic masturbators banged to rights. If only these humanitarian sages had been around to help me through my teens. It’s not too late now, even, I suspect. A letter to the Hull Daily Mail may be in order.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Hessle Road

You can give a man a better new camera but say what you like, the world will always need bad photographs. The Wassand Arms here used to boast a dancing parrot, but no more. There is a parrot in The Ship in Sewerby, but does anyone know of any remaining resident parrots in Hull pubs? I wanted to get pictures too of The Stricky Arms and Rayner’s, redoubtable old watering holes of ill repute, but there were people standing in the door and I didn’t like to disturb them. The pub with the beautiful old Anchor Brewery sign (Anchor Brewery of steam beer fame, presumably?) is The Dairycotes Inn. The Criterion was of coursed named after the literary journal. Geoffrey Hill’s early/late Eliot pitch/tone debate is a very popular theme there, I discover. In fact they speak of little else. Click for big.

Previously Unknown Georges De la Tour Discovered in Hull

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Stephen Burt

And now another big long review, of Stephen Burt’s Forms of Youth, here.

The Letters of Louis MacNeice

Monstrously long review of The Letters of Louis MacNeice, by me, here. Now there was a man who loved cats.