Monday, 20 July 2015

Cleaning Down

And so it is here, two of my lives cross-over.
My literary life, and my culinary life.

And therefore, I shall do something I never normally do and publish the same piece twice, as I feel it is pertinent to both collections. Both The Lonely Road, which is concerned with literary rejection, and Cleaning Down, which is concerned with philosophical allegory

A/ There was a menu change today.

B/ Recently, I have been communicating with Alan Corkish.


... I personally got my ‘education’ via the CP; they used to take over the LSE each summer and organise The Communist University; all free of course and London Comrades provided food and shelter. There I met Ralph Milliband, Tariq Ali, Maurice Klugman, Bertrand Russel, Arthur Scargill, Darcus Howe, Mick McGahey, Jimmy Reid, Valentina Tereshkova, Tony Benn, Dennis Skinner... and on and on (I could name-drop for the UK) ...and when I say ‘met’; they became friends, comrades, I introduced them to my family and met theirs. As for your kids; well I’d venture to suggest that with you around; they WILL get a proper education,
 We’d honestly love to publish some of your stuff; we work as a cooperative however and are just about to splash out...

which was an extract replying to an e-mail from me, beginning,


I thought about a really funny reply, starting, "Go fuck yourself..." but then I thought all this overzealous profane hyperbole might be getting a bit old now. Still, it is funny isn't it, "Go fuck yourself" I think it's just such a great turn of phrase.
 I'll be honest with you Alan, some things in life outrage me, I mean really outrage me, but the fact that I am not a published author doesn't really rank up there with man's inhumanity to man. Nor man's self-sacrifice.

which was sent in reply to this e-mail:


We’ll use some of your work in a future edition if it’s sent in the correct format and follows guidelines. I appreciate the frustration of an artist however all the submissions we get are treated equally. How could we do anything else? If we changed the rules for you we’d be letting the others down. And to be fair; no one has simpler guidelines than erbacce... no one. Did you know Ho Chi Min worked in kitchens as you do? Now there’s a role model.

which was sent in reply to this, the original e-mail,


I'm still in Heswall Alan, but listen, why can't you champion my work for me, you guys went and published a whole load of shallow shite just because some guy had been in a band and had a hit (nick power) and you say the submission process is blind. Some of my stuff is shit Alan but some of it is brilliant, I have even made up my own word for Christ's sake - please google WYOCHUNG - I'm working in the busiest fucking kitchen on the Wirral for minimum fucking wage and I've got three kids and no fucking rich benefactors - I don't want money - all I want is a few pages in black and white and all I get told is submission guidelines, submission guidelines, well what if I'm not good with submission fucking guidelines, does that mean that my work has no place in print - for fuck's sake I've researched you man, that's why I came to you. Please Alan, get the panel to google wyochung, tell them who Keston is and how I just worked another 12-hour shift sweating my balls off to feed a bunch of overpaid civil servants, please Alan help me get something in black and white? You guys were meant to culture weeds, be radical, break the cycles, well I'm the biggest fucking weed around and all I'm getting is pseudo academic snobbery - do something Alan, help me, get them to google wyochung or something - tell them no-one else has their own fucking word except this little Scottish arsehole who's stuck in a kitchen... 

Oh, yes, there was a menu change today.
But I can safely say, I was on top of my game for it.
Then I got another e-mail,


...When I was 14 I had my own flat; (I grew up quick) organised a party, beatniks, artists, street-fighters, poets, couple of Russians... a huge man known as ‘Dealer’ Corace stood on a chair and read this through his half ton beard with his mad Rasputin-eyes bulging. I changed that day. It was poem 14 and I was 14... seemed like an omen...

Poem XX1V by Stephen Spender

After they have tired of the brilliance of cities
And of striving for office where at last they may languish
Hung round with easy chains until
Death and Jerusalem glorify also the crossing-sweeper;
Then these streets the rich built and their easy love
Fade like old cloths, and it is death stalks through life
Grinning white through all faces
Clean and equal like the shine from snow.

In this time when grief pours freezing over us,
When the hard light of pain gleams at every street corner,
When those who were pillars of that day’s gold roof
Shrink in their clothes; surely from hunger
We may strike fire, like fire from flint?
And our strength is now the strength of our bones
Clean and equal like the shine from snow
And the strength of famine and of our enforced idleness,
And it is the strength of our love for each other.

Readers of this strange language,
We have come at last to a country
Where light equal, like the light from snow, strikes all faces,
Here you may wonder
How it was that works, money, interest, building, could ever hide
The palpable and obvious love of man for man.

Oh comrades, let not those who follow after
-The beautiful generation that shall spring from our sides-
Let them not wonder how after the failure of banks,
The failure of cathedrals and the declared insanity of our rulers,
We lacked the Spring-like resources of the tiger
Or of plants who strike out new roots to gushing waters,
But through torn-down portions of old fabric let their eyes
Watch the admiring dawn explode like a shell
Around us, dazing us with light like snow.


There was a menu changed today.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Threats, hyperbole and Hunter S Thompson

I recently sent a drunken e-mail to Alan Corkish, in his capacity as a founder of Erbacce Press: 

"Subject: I typed it carefully to avoid errors
Message: I don't get it - "innocent and quirky little girls and passionate but premature little boys - these are the lot being published" - (Craig Guthrie, The Mushroom Papers)
"Not a Book, a Penny or a Promise." I have written more and better, and still I have nothing in print, a handful of people reading my stuff, and a big fucking Chef's knife in my hand every day. "

I had forgotten about it as soon as I sent it and therefore, was surprised to receive this reply, the next day: 

"What is it you are trying to say?..."

I replied immediately, thus:

"I apologise Alan, I am working long and arduous hours at the moment and suddenly became very frustrated and drunk the other evening. Occasionally my attempts at hyperbole are, at best, misplaced and ill-thought-out.
Again, I apologise profusely.
 Best regards, Craig."

As soon as I read the return e-mail, I was worried. But as soon as I'd sent my reply, I was even more worried - "a big fucking Chef's knife in my hand everyday" - could this be taken as a threat - would the uniforms be knocking on my door soon enough... ...separating me from my real life?
Should I prepare for it?
I do have a big knife in my hand 6 days out of seven and I might well be tired and irritable...
but I am still passive me...
...still trying to state some obscure facts for reasons which aren't quite clear to myself.
Come and see me face to face I think -  because it comes off better - you know - face to face - at the back door of a busy kitchen.
I think of Hunter S Thompson's only really good advice - "Never apologize, Never explain" and the differences between his work and mine.
Although Thompson too, used a ruthless style to illustrate the absurdity of life, frustration, astonishment and so on - and hyperbole to accentuate his own obscure truths - he was primarily a journalist. He used the real names of real people.
He wrote what he was compelled to write - about who he wanted to write about.
And then I thought of my clan motto not so far removed from the American: "Sto Pro Veritatae - I stand for truth" - might or shite, I'm still not sure.
Maybe I should start using real names.
Of real people.
And tell it how it really is - until I'm sued or shot, or stabbed, or something equally as bad...

Friday, 14 March 2014

Excerpt from an Interview and a new job at The Boathouse

An excerpt from my interview with Alan Corkish for the Erbacce journal and the first of the poems they published:

As predicted in the interview, I am now "back at work," not sure, between cooking and poetry, which one is harder.

There is a certain unhealthy kind of gratitude which the working classes are made to feel, which we have to be careful of, simply for the honour of being employed - "Thank you, Sir, for giving me money in return for performing certain tasks and allowing me to be properly involved in the current fiscal tapering."
Equally there is a debt of shame and guilt which we feel if we employ ourselves in the business of Art - far from the rivets of the shipyard and looms of the factory.
Yet I am grateful to be fiscally employed.
For the reasons that, my children can dine on fried chicken twice a week and the fact that my crippling shame and guilt might be stifled both by hard labour in the kitchen and a growing awareness, by merit of the social contact that work requires, that pretty much everyone else, is crazier than I am.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

when crustaceans are hungry

when crustaceans are hungry
they eat themsels
fae the inside oot
right up tae thir shells
uh uh uh
an when am eh gettin ma money
eh dinnae like to be rude
sjist ehve been workin
sae hard fir sae lang

uh uh uh
ehm haein problems
piyin these bills
three bairns in tow
its no easy
when yer caught in the trap
stuck in the pigpen
wadin through crap

uh uh uh
eh ken you weeains
admired meh doagfuck
eh ken you ken
ehve nae rogue luck
but the thing is
you aa seem tae be able
tae piy yer bills
eh ken yir hauns are tied
but ehm strugglin here

uh uh the boy doon the road
he hung hesel
when blockies went doon the tubes
christ whit a terrible shame
eh wish eh could o spoke tae him
tellt him no tae
grabbed him beh the shidders
Shook oot the gloom
fed him brakefast
gied him a room

he wiz young
hid nae dependants
ehm aulder
an never hid a joab
in the first place

an ehm startin tae worry

uh uh well eh say ehm startin
It Startit a lang time ago
when thir wiz this bird
shwiz lanky an ginger
wwir baith blind drunk
an when wnecked in the flat
the taste an smell
o tomato soup
o it wiz unholy

eh grinned an bore it
that affy smell
coz wi baith enjoyed oorsels
sae well
fair well
wbaith enjoyed wersels sae much
wbaith decided that
th th that 
wid niver get in touch

thats when meh brain
evicted aw they crabs
till aw they bills
came again thiday
now whaurs meh money
that wiz up fir grabs

when crustaceans are hungry
they devoor themsels
is that no ringin any bells
what do ye think
meh brens like now honey
efter aw they bills
an still nae money
meh joab wiz done
tellin ye aboot the fella
the auld broon pipe
an the can o stella
an that ginger lassie
smellin o heinz
but still fair sassie
now gie me whit ehm owed
an whit ehve bin due
if no tae finish
at least tae continue
wbaith enjoyed wersels
 sae much
sae well
a watergaw appeared in hell

Thursday, 16 January 2014

The Prospect of Two Letters and a Certain String in My Pocket

"Signed copies available"
"Signed copies available"
I can only laugh.
These egos beat me in the poetry game by getting published first, selling a few copies and winning competitions - innocent and quirky little girls and passionate but premature little boys - perhaps making a few bob before I appear.
They have a book, I have my kitchen application.
Is it because their work is richer, deeper, more profound?
Because they have spent more time on it, endlessly redraughting it until something worthwhile appears?
Better educated, better people, better artists?
Because the issues they raise are more pertinent to modern existence?
Certainly not, "Signed copies available"
But then I don't know why, certainly I don't.
Is it because certain things are "safe" perhaps "risk-free" and...
...oh, certainly sign a copy for me so that I, a stranger, can look appropriately grateful up to what might be the next big thing. But after you have scrawled your name with abundant ego but little thought, prepare to meet this stranger in the flesh, suddenly, and with a great noise breaking any serenity - from around any dark corner while walking at night, or bursting from any wheelie bin you might be innocently passing in the morning.
signed copies available

Thursday, 26 December 2013

rejection consistent

of producing
monthly magazine
called Craig

aMoNgsT PoEtRy
it is proposed
to have
some ToPlEsS
photos of me
in candid poses
and a Recipe

no investors
dragon's den
next week


Thursday, 19 December 2013

Cultivator of Weeds

Thank you for nothing,
If you met my dad,
You'd be utterly in awe,
He's 82,
And worth a million of you,
Defined by his nation,
Born in a haystack,
Betrayed by his station.

In life,
 Never a more honest person,
Hard-working, humble,
Gentle and gentile,
Who always would stumble,
Into the heart of the matter,
Through verbal debate,
A reading of books,
A concept of fate,
Or simply,
Appreciating experience,
More being less,
But Holy God,
I digress,
Thank you for nothing,
It's my bad,
I was writing to thank you,
For the beautiful balloon ride,
But was soon derided,
For too many lines,
starting with Capitals.

well capital for you,
i tip my cap to you,
cap my enthusiasm,
insert your cap,
And brace yourself,
if you met my dad,
you'd appreciate,
my digression,
And sense of fate...
WhIsPeRs Thank you Father,
For Everything,
Thank you.
Cultivator of Weeds,
For Nothing.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Furious Allegorical Wrath - Translation, Exegesis and Hermeneutics

Strange things are afoot - and while they are, and have been, I have reached several more fleeting epiphanies.

Books are being published. Writers are being read. Contemporary literature which I shat out philosophical reviews of in my internal monologue of the McEwan's Export Mid-eighties are being quoted as influences.
People are better-looking these days and this isn't a good thing.
My last poem was not my last.
I shall never have my cafe
I can only vaguely remember Steinbeck, Kafka, Camus, Bukowski, Thompson, Kerouac, Satre, Thoreau - nonetheless, they are still tattooed there, somewhere in my deeper psyche.
I shall build a fire.
I shall channel and dissipate the Furious Wrath.
I shall educate myself on the nature of true injustice and donate time to those less fortunate than myself.
I shall unleash my Unholy Show of Performance Art.
I shall charge for it - but there shall be different rates -  some will pay more than others.
Books are being published and writers being read.

Chef phoned me about doing some Christmas work, some unpredictable high-class seasonal banquet cooking and such like (Anthony Bourdain - - or there is the three weeks night shift at the royal mail centre (Bukowski -

What should I do?

But more important,
Above all,
And at any cost,
I shall write,
And keep on writing,
Until everything is lost.

◄ Ezekiel 5:13 ►

New International Version:

Then my anger will cease and my wrath against them will subside, and I will be avenged. And when I have spent my wrath on them, they will know that I the LORD have spoken in my zeal.

New Living Translation:

Then at last my anger will be spent, and I will be satisfied. And when my fury against them has subsided, all Israel will know that I, the LORD, have spoken to them in my jealous anger.

English Standard Version:

Thus shall my anger spend itself, and I will vent my fury upon them and satisfy myself. And they shall know that I am the LORD—that I have spoken in my jealousy—when I spend my fury upon them.

New American Standard Bible:

Thus My anger will be spent and I will satisfy My wrath on them, and I will be appeased; then they will know that I, the LORD, have spoken in My zeal when I have spent My wrath upon them.

King James Bible:

Thus shall mine anger be accomplished, and I will cause my fury to rest upon them, and I will be comforted: and they shall know that I the LORD have spoken it in my zeal, when I have accomplished my fury in them.

Holman Christian Standard Bible:

When My anger is spent and I have vented My wrath on them, I will be appeased. Then after I have spent My wrath on them, they will know that I, Yahweh, have spoken in My jealousy.

International Standard Version:

Only then will I stop being angry—my burning in anger. Then they'll know that I've spoken out in my arduous anger. Only then will my burning anger against them be exhausted. 

NET Bible:

Then my anger will be fully vented; I will exhaust my rage on them, and I will be appeased. Then they will know that I, the LORD, have spoken in my jealousy when I have fully vented my rage against them.

But above all,
Translation, Exegesis, Hermeneutics... above all and at any cost, I shall write and keep on writing, the existential solipsist, until everything is lost. - CG, 2013, "The Mushroom Papers"

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Some Basic Notes on Thoreau

I am a Parcel of Vain Strivings Tied

I am a parcel of vain strivings tied
By a chance bond together,
Dangling this way and that, their links
Were made so loose and wide,
For milder weather.

A bunch of violets without their roots,
And sorrel intermixed,
Encircled by a wisp of straw
Once coiled about their shoots,
The law
By which I'm fixed.

A nosegay which Time clutched from out
Those fair Elysian fields,
With weeds and broken stems, in haste,
Doth make the rabble rout
That waste
The day he yields.

And here I bloom for a short hour unseen,
Drinking my juices up,
With no root in the land
To keep my branches green,
But stand
In a bare cup.

Some tender buds were left upon my stem
In mimicry of life,
But ah! the children will not know,
Till time has withered them,
The woe
With which they're rife.

But now I see I was not plucked for naught,
And after in life's vase
Of glass set while I might survive,
But by a kind hand brought
To a strange place.

That stock thus thinned will soon redeem its hours,
And by another year,
Such as God knows, with freer air,
More fruits and fairer flowers
Will bear,
While I droop here.

- Henry David Thoreau.

Mohandas Gandhi on Thoreau:

Credited Thoreau's essay with being “the chief cause of the abolition of slavery in America” and wrote, “Thoreau was a great writer, philosopher, poet, and withal a most practical man, that is, he taught nothing he was not prepared to practice in himself. He was one of the greatest and most moral men America has produced. At the time of the abolition of slavery movement, he wrote his famous essay "On the Duty of Civil Disobedience". He went to gaol for the sake of his principles and suffering humanity. His essay has, therefore, been sanctified by suffering. Moreover, it is written for all time. Its incisive logic is unanswerable.
For Passive Resisters (1907)

Dr Martin Luther King Jr. on Thoreau:

“During my student days I read Henry David Thoreau's essay On Civil Disobedience for the first time. Here, in this courageous New Englander's refusal to pay his taxes and his choice of jail rather than support a war that would spread slavery's territory into Mexico, I made my first contact with the theory of nonviolent resistance. Fascinated by the idea of refusing to cooperate with an evil system, I was so deeply moved that I reread the work several times.
I became convinced that noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good. No other person has been more eloquent and passionate in getting this idea across than Henry David Thoreau. As a result of his writings and personal witness, we are the heirs of a legacy of creative protest. The teachings of Thoreau came alive in our civil rights movement; indeed, they are more alive than ever before. Whether expressed in a sit-in at lunch counters, a freedom ride into Mississippi, a peaceful protest in Albany, Georgia, a bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama, these are outgrowths of Thoreau's insistence that evil must be resisted and that no moral man can patiently adjust to injustice. -The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Thoreau on society and State:

“What old people say you cannot do you try and find that you can.” – Economy.

“The mass of men serve the state thus, not as men mainly, but as machines, with their bodies. They are the standing army, and the militia, jailers, constables, posse comitatus, &c. In most cases there is no free exercise whatever of the judgment or of the moral sense: but they put themselves on a level with wood and earth and stones; and wooden men can perhaps be manufactured that will serve the purpose as well.
Such command no more respect than men of straw or a lump of dirt. They have the same sort of worth only as horses and dogs. Yet such as these even are commonly esteemed good citizens.” Civil Disobedience.

“How does it become a man to behave toward this American government to-day? I answer, that he cannot without disgrace be associated with it. I cannot for an instant recognize that political organisation as my government which is the slave’s government also.”Civil Disobedience.

“Thus the State never intentionally confronts a man’s sense, intellectual or moral, but only his body, his senses. It is not armed with superior wit or honesty, but with superior physical strength. I was not born to be forced. I will breathe after my own fashion. Let us see who is the strongest. What force has a multitude? They only can force me who obey a higher law than I. They force me to become like themselves. I do not hear of men being forced to live this way or that by masses of me. What sort of life were that to live?" – Civil Disobedience.

The Transcendentalists:

“The Transcendentalists were eclectic rather than systematic, any brief description of their views tends to be reductive… …As James Freeman Clarke observed about himself and his contemporaries, the Transcendentalists were ‘a club of likeminded, I suppose because no two of us thought alike.’
The unity within this diversity was a feeling that American literature, philosopy, and religion, as well as government, society, and individuals, were not fulfilling the potential that they believed was possible. Although Thoreau refused to be a member of any collective movement, he did occasionally refer to himself as a Transcendendalist (partially because this self-description could be counted on to confuse and dismay people)…
…Indeed their primary activities were forms of self-expression rather than the kinds of social, economic, or political actions that the bustling 19th century would have been likely to comprehend.” – Introduction to Walden and Civil Disobedience.

Thoreau on the human condition:

“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go into the desperate country, and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats. A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind.”Economy.