October 28th

My sequence of 11 pieces Hesitations was published in Etruscan Reader Five in 1997. It was extracted from a sequence of 48 pieces made when I was working on a commission for the Traverse Theatre years before. This full sequence will now be published in the next issue of Tim Atkins' online poetry magazine onedit due out in a few months. A sequence I like myself that is online from a previous issue of onedit is Harry Gilonis's forty fungi which can be seen here

I've agreed to do a gig at Mono Cafe in Glasgow down King Street, 12 King's Court, on the evening of Thursday November 26th. Am doing it for friend and former student, poet Lorna Callery who is hosting monthly gigs there.


October 25th

I've added a link on the links page to a website with links to local and national radio stations worldwide broadcasting on the net. You can browse by clicking on USA, Europe etc in the lefthand column here


October 12th

I have added a link on the links page to the online Iranian English TV channel Press TV, the only television source of a non-West viewpoint on Iran, also giving airspace to various Left people in London and elsewhere that we don't normally get to hear on air, eg tonight a Palestine Solidarity Campaign person interviewed about the Gaza situation. During the recent Iranian election campaign and its aftermath the reporting of the conflict was quite muted and not at all a blanket condemnation of Mousavi, which suggests that some of the journalists themselves were of the opposition. Press TV can be seen by clicking the relevant link on the page here



October 8th

I have been sent a cutting of a review of Outside the Narrative that appeared in last Saturday’s Guardian. The paper has not put the review online but I have put up scans of the review part one here and part two here.


September 27th

This from 36 years ago. The braw pawky Scottish communist became "a calvinistic communist who thoat a wuz revisionist" in Ghostie Menof 1979.


in scotland


September 16th

The blog here on May 31st noted that the Times of London had finally broken the media silence on the massacre of thousands of Tamils by the Sri Lankan government—the silence finally broken, that is, a month after the massacre was finally over. I also noted how the execrable Ban Ki-Moon had had nothing to say of the massacre in his “official visit” to the region.

Now after another three and a half months have passed, the Guardian has published an eyewitness report of the scenes of bloodshed by a woman who was there trying to give medical aid, and who has been finally released from the enormous Sri Lankan detention camps after a campaign to have her returned to Britain.

"I was there when the UN secretary Ban Ki-moon came in … He stayed there for about 10 minutes and just went. Why didn't he go into the camp and talk to the people and spend some time asking them what their problems were? I thought he has a responsibility and people were expecting something from him. They expected much from him and he just spent 10 minutes and that's it…

And I was thinking in my mind 'What have the people done wrong? Why are they going through this, why is the international government not speaking up for them?’ I'm still asking."

The report can be found here http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/sep/15/sri-lanka-war-on-tamil-tigers


September 7th

A little bit of tidying up on the website pages that deal with the six o'clock news poem, which has been in the English GCSE for years, and about which a number of pupils seem to visit the relevant pages on this site every week. Stumbled on a BBC website guide for GCSE pupils which says the poem is about language and power, which is ok; but it goes on to say that the conflict is to do with the poet being Scottish and an example of why the Scots wanted devolution - which is baloney.

Have put a short reply to the BBC website introducing the taboo word "class". Or as one old trade unionist said to another, "Well, in my young days we didn't have the word "entrepeneurs". We just called them cunts."

The note replying to the BBC website has been put at the end of the poem here.


September 6th

A funny (almost) example of language-bleed in the Sunday Times today. Its political editor, Jonathan Oliver, writes

that the Labour Party in government "faces a new cash crisis amid warnings that Britain's biggest trade union is

poised to end party donations worth more than £3 million a year. Westminster insiders believe that Unite, which has

almost 2m members, is about to be taken over by left-wing insurgents who will sever the historic financial link with the

Labour Party."

"insurgents"!!! —just like the Taliban, Al Quaida, and all the rest. Our heroic Fourth Estate strikes another language blow.

But against this kind of stuff: I have memories in my childhood back in the fifties of Harry Belafonte as a popular singer. What I did not know is that not only is he still alive but that he has been a lifelong activist and is a very sound analyst of contemporary politics. An excellent twenty-minute interview in two parts with him on Al Jazeera is herehttp://english.aljazeera.net/programmes/faultlines/2009/09/200992104133294158.html

with part two here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7aoxwmdcb0c

Impressive, and very cheering.



August 31st

Frolics in Glasgow University. A Fellow of the British Royal Society of something or other, an Officer of the Order of the British Empire no less, has criticised James Kelman for speaking at the Edinburgh Festival of a cultural amnesia about Scotland’s radical tradition , and for speaking highly, in passing, of the work of what the Fellow refers to as "Kelman's Glaswegian working class friends”. This the Fellow denounced to the press as “parochialism”. The Fellow himself has written touching autobiographical verse recalling childhood memories which were not indeed working class but were about being driven around alone by his father’s chauffeur. 

The only "working class friend" cited by James Kelman, it turns out, has made the error of writing some poetry about the anti-terrorism laws, about British-American-Israeli policy in the Occupied Territories, about the bombing of Iraq Kuwait and Afghanistan, and about the nature of class and language in Britain—besides sundry critical essays on literature, a book of literary biography, love poetry etc etc 

This Officer of the Order of the British Empire was helicoptered up from England two years ago to be "Professor of Poetry" and Convenor of the Creative Writing course in Glasgow. And James Kelman's "working class friend" happens to be the part-time Professor of Creative Writing!! 

Now that I am 65, I have four weeks until I retire. How shall I count the hours....

PS The entry on this blog for June 3rd has relevance to this.


August 24th 






August 23rd





August 20th



This postcard accompanied an advance copy I received from Stuart Christie of his soon to be published Pistoleros! an anarchist history with embedded fictional Glasgwegian narrator describing conflicts with church and state in Barcelona at the end of the First World War. The fictional character makes the book a kind of prequel by half a century to Granny Made me an Anarchist and is evidently the first in a planned continuing narrative of twentieth century events in Spain. A film script is being produced of Granny Made me an Anarchist, and I hope a film comes about. Stuart Christie’s website is here  http://www.christiebooks.com/


August 19th



Reverend Bell, or The Stickit Minister


Having taken his morning Gravitas pill he set out the heads of his sermon

to be called A Biblical Defence of Chuckles.


A side effect of the Gravitas pill was to make him tone deaf, but, oblivious,

he toiled on with the darg of exegesis.



August 16th

A binary I have been in pursuit of all my life it seems is to do with this debate between process and naming, between closure and openness, between enthusiasm and the patriarchal full stop of the summatory. In Places of the Mind for instance there is the difference historically between the existential enthusiast millenialist Edward Irving, and the dry, literalist heaven-as-a-jewellers-window millenialism of Rev Robert Cumming. It's a very male thing, the latter, a sometime unpleasant aspect of masculinity to do with power. Yes if I had to follow either I would be an Irvingite. And Cummings would be given the job of Chief of Police, where he always belongs—in his many guises. 



a reply to a masculinist


being itself is more important than the name for it

being itself is more important than the word for it


being is quick

being is of the quick

being is not that-which-is-owned


judge not lest/

stuck in the word



text without space

that which is grasped


a grasping

a person who grasps




the man here owns the world

to himself


to his idea of self

this male owns the world to himself

in his idea of self


self is word

self is identity

imposition of order


no more the subconscious structured as a language


this man is weighed down


he has to carry the world in his word

he has to explain the word to the world


this man thinks he is a man

to himself



he has to carry the world in his word


but being itself is more important than the name for it

being itself is more important than the word for it











July 29th

Our gas and electricity at home is supplied by Scottish Power. The company is one of the small cartel of energy suppliers who have been cashing inbig style on the lack of regulation since the basic utilities were privatised in Britain. Oil price rises were given as the reason for the latest round of huge price increases; but when the oil prices soon fell back again, the prices from the energy companies, surprise surprise, didn’t follow suit. Now, at the height of the Scottish summer, our fixed monthly charge is well over twice what it was this time last year. We’re not unusual—just one of the millions currently being charged exorbitant prices by the privatised UK energy companies.

In the online magazine New Energy Focus for July 22nd,Iberdrola, the Spanish conglomerate which now owns Scottish Power, reports a 23% drop in profits from its overall portfolio of companies, down to a mere £1.3 billion (!) for the latest six-month period. But within that portfolio of companies, Scottish Power is apparently a leading cause for shareholder optimism. £717 million profits were gathered in that six months by Scottish Power alone.As a spokesman for Iberdrolla put it: "ScottishPower has become one of the principal drivers of growth for Iberdrola."

Which can be roughly translated as:“Thanks to deregulation and privatisation in Britan, we can charge Scottish Power customers as much as we like. That’s why we bought them.”


July 23rd

sun satan



July 19th

While up for the reading at Achins Bookshop in Sutherland at the weekend I was invited to take part in the Ullapool Book Festival next year, which will run from May 7th to May 9th.

Also besides the talk I am giving on October 17th in the Mitchell Library as part of the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival (previously mentioned here on June 10th) I have now been invited as part of the same festival to read at the Platform Easterhouse on October 1st at 6.30.



July 11th

Etruscan sells some of their new poetry books to collectors with the poet having written a poem in handwriting at the back. This is what I've written on mine.

July 7th

The steadfast silence on Gaza (which can only be read about on the net) the relentless BBC broadcasting (founded on £15 million of UK Foreign Office money setting up BBC Persian TV in January) disseminating and acting as focus for opposition in Iran.

Palestine 2006, Iran 2009. Two elections,one result: the “wrong people” won the election. Despite apparent difference, and whatever the nature of the genuine opposition in Iran, the response to both events has been in accordance with one government policy aim—“regime change”.


Cleaning out a drawer today came on a draft of the following from years ago. Finished it off, here added as addendum to the preceding.


News from Nowhere 

Poison from the radio. The television, only a series of electrons hitting the screen, creating an image. Difficult to breathe. Do other people feel like this?

What an insult to language, to have to go around, letting this thing take the place of being in language. Why is there no person in language, do people feel like this too.

Authority, and this not a recollection but the fact of beinghere, looking at the place, such decent things to see, when the eyes are used, carefully. The colour of Irises.

Just another day, another grey day with nobody of any importance doing anything. Far from the centres of power a member of the masses sits watching television. There is a talk-in about anxiety this is rather a serious subject for this series. Gripping. If you agree phone a thousand digits if you’re in Glasgow or Belfast change the first three accordingly.




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