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.