Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Intro to Shot No 21

The poet Steve Waling took this photo and gave me 30 seconds to look at it before I wrote this from my impression of it.

SHOT NO 21, by Anthony Sides

Shadow lines of a fence with a bushy leaved tree on one side of it - drawn by the sun on a grey stone block wall in some oblique corner of Los Angeles created by a freeway spur, a quiet corner away from the gang violence today.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Intro to Shot No 20

I started to write this about some of my favourite words, and overheard a remark which I let distract me.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

SHOT NO 20, by Anthony Sides

That hiss of the wind in trees rippling white-sided.

My uncle's son-in-law drove him to a nursing home to die. A black woman in a uniform came out.

"Bloody hell," my uncle said. "What tribe are you?"

Oh, no, please, my uncle's son-in-law thought.

"Matabele," the woman said, and as she guided and supported my uncle lifting himself out of the back of the car in to his wheelchair my uncle and the woman started to have a conversation together with each other in Swahili. My uncle had done some of his National Service in Kenya and said he had learned to speak some Swahili there.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

SHOT NO 19, by Anthony Sides

Mr Grafton marched out of his premises when he heard the thin bright wire of the scream climb in to the autumn sky. The tram scraped screeching and stopped. The horses stood, ears flicked, heads bobbed, the long reins pulled tight.

Shied when a straw bonnet with a ribbon on it blew past their hocks and hoofs. There was blood on the brim. The people on the street were silent with a sick feeling, and then whispers.

Practical grey-handlebar-moustached Mr Grafton marched forward to take charge. His bowler hat was straight and he was wearing a starched shirt and black cravat and the trousers and waist coat of his grey 3-piece suit, having left his jacket in the office in his haste taking his bowler from the peg.

Clearly there had been a frightful accident. Terrible business. Mr Grafton knew he must take charge. He stopped by the front of the tram in the middle of the cobbled street and nodded gruffly to the fish-belly-white-faced driver who looked down at him appalled, giant eyes, squid eyes. Mr Grafton bent to look under the tram to be certain the poor party was in fact deceased and would not be further injured if he directed the tram to back up to free the body.

It was 1928. Younger rusty-handlebar-moustached Mr Grafton saved Mark Addy from drowning in the Irwell though it was a misunderstanding, and owned a bicycle shop and then the 1st Ford motor car show room in the south eastern district of the Manchester conurbation. The good son was killed at Ypres. The younger son helped his father with the business, was schizophrenic, shot himself in an unsuccessful suicide attempt. Mr Grafton shut down. Continued to attend church. Felt angry all the time without knowing. Survived his wife. Married a young girl. Survived her when she and her straw bonnet were crushed by a horse-drawn tram.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

SHOT NO 18, by Anthony Sides

For 4 hours I remember nothing at all the pretty horses come to the aid of the quick red fox glacier mints meat polar bear arms and the manifold it 5 ways and put it where the moon don't shine on harvest moon river Just once I'd like to hear you scream in pain Try playing some rap music makes the bourgeoisie and the rebel red jacket white T blue jeans He has to see us Harry Webb and the Spyders in the heat of the night of the iguana he arrives just in time wounds all heels round about just a minute passes the clock throws minutes in to the room with a view from the bridge contract trumps smells like boiled eggs bus ride from Queens Park giant spidery steel/concrete bridge high above the river in the park funny-coloured textile-smelling water ripples silkily - down from the bridge they throw bags of rubbish mattresses an old brown sofa I thought was a dead cart horse on its side fridges a gold-spray-painted basket chair and a large porcelain doll lying on its back, the river eddies moving the hem of its dress, that turns its head from the side and opens glass Liz Taylor eyes and blinks.

Thursday, 18 September 2008


There's almost of full hour of this interesting interview from 1995 by Charlie Rose, and since the sound is out of synch with the visual you may as well enjoy listening to it while you do something else in another window.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

OUCH! by Dave Puller

You can e mail me if you would like a copy of Ouch! by Dave Puller, Leon Johnson, and Tony Connor - some copies are still available. Click on the e mail link in the left margin. Dave will mail you the book with an invoice for £5 per copy plus p & p.

Friday, 1 August 2008

"It's nothing to do with technique,
it depends on the attitude of who is doing it."


Friday, 18 July 2008

Hello to you regular readers who have noticed that the quotations are piling up with no new writing in between.

I'm re-thinking the order I want to post new pieces in: Shots 1 to 4 and then Shot 6 are pieces I wrote in the order they are posted - the pieces I wrote next are piled up in note books, and I want to go through them and find and post the ones that work before I post more recent writing that I've already got to hand.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

"When I met Mort Sahl, he said that
once you become predictable, you're lost."

Sunday, 1 June 2008

"You are lost the instant you know what the result will be."

Friday, 9 May 2008

"Having taught myself, I believe that if it works for you, don't fix it."

Monday, 14 April 2008


Though Oswald's Tale's style and substance are like The Executioner's Song - the book "depends upon the small revelation of separate points of view" - it's more interesting, since Mailer got access to KGB files on Lee Oswald's time in the Soviet Union. His version of Oswald is fair and thorough and he patiently considers the importance of small contradictions. At times you think he's writing more about his own psychology than Oswald's, and at others - more reasonably - he seems to use his knowledge of Jack Abbott as a reference point for his insights.
In January I read Why Are We in Vietnam? for the 3rd time and realized it's one of Mailer's best novels. The narrator's witty riffs, rants and digressions and the more concrete narrative of the hunt interrupt each other, and that can be frustrating - and that's our modern consciousness and our experience of life: as Jackson J. Benson said 2 or 3 years later in Hemingway: The Writer's Art of Self-Defense, none of us see with Hem's clarity and simplicity, and none of us live in a world we would want to see that clearly.
Near the end Mailer backs away from a climactic scene and that makes it a very good book instead of a great one; though in Ancient Evenings - where it may have seemed to him to be at a safer distance - he writes with more emotion about a similar situation that goes much farther.

Saturday, 12 April 2008

"There's a great freedom in being able to write what I think and feel
and not worry about whether I'm pissing somebody off."

Monday, 3 March 2008

"I just sit down and write whatever is interesting."

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Note about Shot No 7

You can still get some copies of Ouch!, which includes poems by Dave Puller, and his collection Peace, Love and War (and a Little bit of Wythenshawe) is pending. Thank you to Dave for letting me use his poem on Espresso Shots.

Monday, 4 February 2008

Note about Must Read Norman Mailer

In December xc left a comment suggesting The Spooky Art for this list: I've read sections of it in other collections and I would like xc and any others of you who have read The Spooky Art to post a longer comment on what you think about the book, please.

"... the words arrive by themselves ..."

Thursday, 31 January 2008

SHOT NO 16, by Anthony Sides

The village he lived outside of at a farm and the quays and the keys and the stream and consciousness and the dusty sage hills in the west and all the towns and cities of the plain where the dust is as thick as flour hanging against the enamelled blue sky behind the car, following the fights for all of the summer, the Catholic religious festivals of the saints, eating apples and raw onions in the car, and the big apple briefly for work and play and drinking with the witless circle - "Did he really like me?" dying Dorothy asked - and an older city once, because of the strong $, and again for nostalgia, and the skies over another country along with youth and later and the clear cubist winter edges of buildings across a lagoon, and finally a poured concrete house above the flood, and then the greenish underwater light of the wards of the clinic and out along the northern river that a younger writer said washes up the body of the country, on days out for good - cheerful - behaviour, even breaking bottles in a row with a 22 Woodsman hunch shouldered white hair bearded steel frame spectacles with Father Xmas eyes behind worried by now - pop pop pop - a good pistol shot still for an old man; or always the summer small town in summer every summer as a child and adolescent - the frightening, attractive woods - the sky reflecting the lake and pine tops - the last good country - the lost good country - the places he said you can only go to again in your memory because when you go back for real you find they are ruined, back to front, though when you go back in memory in your mind they are still perfect and the same, as pristine as a boy's illusions or snow on a mountain seen from a distance and the green hills above the straw-coloured grass in the heat.

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Ex 7



again, writing about a different kind of escape this time or writing in a different way about the same kind of escape.

Friday, 11 January 2008

Note about Shot No 15

Dorothy Walker wrote Shot No 15 after seeing the photograph by Don McPhee, dated 1971 and looking like 1917.

SHOT No 15, ERIC AND ERNIE by Dorothy Walker

There were two old men sitting in deckchairs.
No, they weren't. They were lying on the sand,
in Blackpool
on Bank Holiday Monday.

The first one said,
"It's nice out today, isn't it?"
The second one said,
"Yes it is. I might take off my overcoat."

The first one said,
"Steady on."

Friday, 4 January 2008

"... allow yourself the privilege of spontaneity ...."