Friday, 3 December 2010


I keep reading when ever I dip in to this.

You may know the events and many of the specifics, and there's that swagger and bravado in front of and in between his intelligence, insights and vulnerability - but swagger and bravado are parts of who he is and without them you might not have noticed him (as his mum said, and as anyone watching him with Chuck Berry in Hail! Hail! Rock 'n Roll can see, Keith Richards is shy) (a sign of conceit, it's said, though a musician he helped said you can see he's a humble man from his walk).

If he was vulnerable all the time you wouldn't be as interested - it's the mix that's attractive: tough plus vulnerable, whether it's Keith Richards or an Eliza Dushku performance or some one else - besides, as he's said, "There's a thin line between vulnerable and asshole."

"I'm not really 'Keith Richards'," he's also said, and he's at his best when he remembers that. He's fascinating when he writes about writing songs, and his wit and wry perceptions are all over these pages. Handsome object of a hardback, too.

Friday, 19 November 2010

"When a demagogue inside your head has taken charge" -

Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson -

Hang on to Your Emotions

You probably expect me to biro lyrics I like in to the inside back cover of my exercise book, but I'm putting them here too. This is a song about the voice in our minds that criticizes us - the poet Steve Waling ( calls it "the policeman in your head", though to me it usually sounded like one of my teachers or some former "friend" (some people are inadequate enough to enjoy knowing they're a toxic influence). Hang on to Your Emotions is about insomnia, too, or at least night-for-day, and I love the bass line and the mix of metaphors and specific scenes, and the way Reed plays with fire - and with pop song conventions - with the moon/swoon stuff near the end. This is a love song, too - more so in the performance: watch how Reed and Anderson watch each other.

Lou Reed: Hang on to Your Emotions

When your imagination has too much to say

When the chill of the night meets the sweat of the day

And you have trouble understanding what other people have to say

You'd better hang on to your emotions

When a demagogue inside your head has taken charge

And by default what you say or do is criticized

And this litany of failures is recited a thousand times

You'd better hang on to your emotions

Could it be you've never felt like that

That your mind's a cage - inside the cage a cat

That spits and scratches all it can get at

And that's you and your emotions

Could it be you've never felt like that

Your mind's a cage - inside the cage a rat

Rabidly trying to get at you and your emotions

When your imagination has too much to say

When that facile voice inside your head says give your life away

You might think to ask - how it got that way

What books it has read - that make it that way

And where it got the right - to speak to anyone that way

You'd better hang on to your emotions, hang on to your emotions

When a night city's breeze blows across the room

And a 5 am moon and sun start their swoon

You hear your lover's breath

But not a moment too soon

You get to release all your emotions

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

SHOT NO 50, by Anthony Sides

Time was sticky. A dusty windscreen, sun and miles and miles of time. Cappuccino blue sky - a moment I pretended. I heart that summer's finished, bestowing a blessing.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Lou Reed - The Power of the Heart (2008)

Typically tender, romantic Lou Reed song: like most of his work after New York it's quiet and assuming and the more you listen to it the more you like it - play it a few times in this window while you're updating your social networking profiles or sending e mails, and see how much you enjoy it.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Friday, 1 October 2010

TONY CURTIS 1925-2010

"What'll I be in the history of Hollywood?" Tony Curtis said in the late 1960s. "A footnote?"

He was more interested, in that interview, in advocating the legalization of cannabis, and the US movie magazine I read this in was shocked that he "admitted" giving his father cannabis when his father was dying of cancer.

There's a similar scene in the novel he wrote with Barry Paris - a character gives his mother cannabis and she finds it takes care of her pain to a degree the doctors' drugs don't - leaving her able to be herself in the midst of the illness and able to be accepting.

Kid Andrew Cody and Julie Sparrow is amateurish in the best sense of the word - it's enthusiastic and idiosyncratic and Curtis takes the narrative wherever he's interested in going - perhaps ad libbing as he liked to as an actor. I read it in one night when I was 15 or 16, and again in my 20s much more slowly and carefully, and both times I enjoyed its pace and gusto and poignant humanity. The opening line is "The 20th Century Ltd pulled in to the station.", and I thought this was symbolic - the 20th Century Ltd is actually a train that went between NY and LA. The sentences in the book are short and snappy and tight and witty, and it starts fast and stays fast, and keeps a clear line of progress even with its discursiveness.

Round the time of his cannabis campaigning Curtis was disappointed he'd not been better received in The Boston Strangler. His is a fearless performance in a grim, interesting, voyeuristic film - all Henry Fonda films seem obsessed with lines of guilt and innocence and justice and ambiguity - but there was a moment watching it when, as Curtis sneaks down a hallway with the same furtive moves as in The Persuaders, that I wished I was watching him in something less bleak and ugly. I felt guilty for not giving him more leeway - he's raw and compelling and cold and clumsily real in the role - risking real awkwardness in the mimed reconstructions when his character is in custody. I'm not a big fan of Some Like It Hot, enjoyable though it is, and I think Curtis's best work is probably the press agent flattering and ingratiating and plotting in The Sweet Smell of Success - he called it a "feel-bad movie".

He was also a beautiful chat-show guest, usually as an engaging, funny storyteller. On Aspel in 1984 he upstaged both Jackie Collins and Pamela Stephenson, which I would guess is not as easy as he made it look.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

SHOT NO 49, from a piece in progress by Anthony Sides


In another city on the Sunday, there was one minister who said in church to his congregation, "Evil does not wear a turban. Evil wears the face of a human being, whose heart is filled with hate, and fear."


Saturday, 11 September 2010

Friday, 10 September 2010

SHOT NO 47, by Anthony Sides

watching her

do French

outside the window

it sounds good -

kissing, breath,

and pigeons;

a slow carousel -

me, her personality -

in her eyes for me

Tuesday, 13 July 2010


Finishing Exile on Main Street in Los Angeles, Jagger/Richards got stuck trying to write lyrics for this track. "Let's do a William Burroughs-style cut-up," Keith said, and they put phrases on bits of paper and put them together at random, so the story goes. The first words on the track are, "No good, can't speak," which may reflect the stuck feeling they started from.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

SHOT NO 46, by Anthony Sides

The Louisiana architect spoke in tongues they said: licking shit-rimmed blood the forest computer children sister flowers kisses churches spirals shit smoke picnics a pig witches hills; and because I had a camera him and his cousin kicked my head around on the cobbles under a dull-red fire escape in a courtyard filled with ferns and green sunlight and the cobbles tilted and the light blew around the brick walls in the breeze.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

SHOT NO 45, by Anthony Sides

Slow kisses damp after sex. A minute and a half you don't think about hypnotises you, and pale-sided leaves ripple a few scraps of tinfoil sunlight on to the ceiling.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010


Richard Harvey-Morgan, a regular at some workshops I've run in Burnley has had his first book published - Away with the Fairies - described as

"a story for all ages that goes straight to the heart. A book of pure fantasy offering an answer to some of the legendary tales of old Lancashire, bringing to life well- known legendary characters of northern England. Illustrated with 30 unique colour photographs.

"Richard is a small timid 12 year old who hates weekends. His mother, addicted to heroin, depends upon him whilst his father is in prison. Richard is ill-fed and -clothed, and his home has none of the contents that his schoolmates enjoy. He desperately wants to escape the drudgery and depression of his life. His only escape, when not at school or the library, is the forest, where he spends time amongst the wild residents.

"It is whilst there that his wishes are heard and acted upon by the fairies. The result of their trickery is that he is transformed into microcosmic size and the adventures begin."

I wish Richard all the best with his book and you can contact him at

Sunday, 20 June 2010

SHOT NO 42: THE WHITE CEILING, by Anthony Sides

That summer reminds me of her. Potted plants, dusty windows, and the sunlight reflected.
"I'm a slag but - " raspberry jam falling out of her mouth.
"How can I love you when you bite?"
Her wet skin, ripple and swirl, and the sunlight reflected. Scraps of rain, dusty windows, and the sunlight reflected.
"You can't want to think, you laugh all the time."

Friday, 18 June 2010


I was disappointed when I first played Exile on Main Street. Don't buy a Stones album if you've not heard of the hits, I thought.

I kept playing it, through and through, and after a while certain passages became recognizable as they came up, clicking in to focus surrounded by unintelligible lyrics and music my brain didn't find familiar yet, and eventually I started to like it.

Though styles and paces change on the album, even when you're familiar with them the songs blur in to each other, and Exile has a continuity, like a cycle of songs.

The Stones used to work by playing a track again and again, composing and recording by using repetition and reiteration and the accretion of improvements. This record was worked and reworked, and finished and overdubbed and mixed in LA, and pieces and passages from different takes were stuck together, and it keeps a spontaneity and an impression of being a finished rough cut - one step short of a fair copy, loose and ragged and right - with workings shown and corrections scribbled in the margin. There's a layering of different voices and instruments, and one extra layer is that Exile carries with it a sense of the creative process that led to itself.

The damp cellar most tracks were recorded in is more famous than most of the individual songs, and the technical problems helped: the conscious minds of the players and producers were on the hitches and glitches and out-of-tune strings, leaving their unconscious minds free to play and create and improvise freely.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010


I've finished Carrie again. I read it only 20 pages or so at a time because it's horrible - Carrie's home life and how lost she is and her school life, and the doomed feeling all through the book.

In his intro King writes, "I was frightened .... of the level of cruelty I would have to describe."

He continues, "I was also frightened to revisit what I'd not had the wit or moral courage to stop," and Carrie is horrible not because it's horror but because of how real it is.

I've read about 40 of King's books, and that's a lot of pages, and I'm grateful for the pleasure of the time I've spent in his company in that way.

Though his books and stories are sometimes too long, and not all of them are good, I hope that while we have him around we properly value him for the entertainment, sensations and insights he gives us in his writing.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

SHOT NO 41, by Anthony Sides

All the lies you wish. All the cruel people. All the spin-the-bottle. Pink champagne and chances. Never connect. The taste of copper, and the winter sun in circles bouncing pennies in your eyes.

Saturday, 5 June 2010


You can you can't you haven't. Am I am I I might. It's him that's weird. Planned and detached in life. Distant. Distant. Guided by fear. Tea, TV. Spilled pills, faded pretty hills. Broken little soldier, told he just can't cope. Scared of a windowed room, scared of the street. Sleeps in daylight and shouts.

Friday, 4 June 2010

SHOT NO 39, by Anthony Sides

The sun shouts in orange, a grin behind your eyes. But remember: take everything seriously.

SHOT NO 38, by Anthony Sides

A misty straight row of morning trees in front of orange sky, and stripes of shadow and sideways sunlight across an empty school athletics field making the white lines pink. All the lessons I've learned in life are too painful to talk about. Dots of dew, coconut butter aftershave balm, a bird whistling a ring tone, and the weave of my white poplin shirt. A black ant on the cuff stops at the seam, wiggling three of its legs.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

SHOT NO 37, by Anthony Sides

Bus station toilet mirrors taps graffiti sinks all is one. White concrete yellow smog smelling like burned. Parking lot. Her eyes pink. I'm not sure who I am. Treat her badly. Bored stoned force. Jeans knees. Lace feels lively. Exhaustion. Is this all we are chemicals? Everybody sleep all day on a sleep today. Glare. Stucco walls patio tiles silver shoes. Blue swimming-pool jigsaw scribble. Pink piss. Fucked leather. Digital spreads. She talks about all she talks about every night she talks about all. Tired gone so bad. Tamarisks. Hills. Blue pills my palm. Watching. Champagne bottle. Terracotta roof tiles blue sky wires blue sky blue sky traffic copter yellow horizon.

Monday, 24 May 2010

SHOT NO 36: A PLEASING FACE, by Anthony Sides

Much is redacted. Extremely secret, duct-taped shut, locked shut, restricted access - blank, stiff, clean: resolutely pleasant. He can't suppress it all. Smile, sneak, flipping the pages, and his teeth clench. That pain in his stomach. It's fine. A Filipina girl crying, Technicolor gloss, smeared pink grimace. Weekend in the dark with the repression sick and jealous, slip, slap, heartburn blurp: the opposite of control.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

SHOT NO 35, by Anthony Sides

Musk perfume, a handkerchief and jeans. Flower-coloured summer, and white lipstick kisses. Rainbows and good thoughts. I dream I love you when you yawn. I wake up, my life watching. You sleep.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

SHOT NO 34, by Anthony Sides

Famous women. Scornful, silly voices. How did I get like this? I want to sleep all night. I'll kiss your morning and we'll have coffee and danish and jokes. Please like me.

The 6 S Review Issue 3

Saturday, 1 May 2010

My story in a book in the US

You can read my short short story Lady of Leisure (about 75 words) in this new collection from the US. You'll enjoy the book if you like fast fiction, and you can follow a link from

"Think you know fast fiction? Think again."

6S, Volume 3
Edited by Lydia Davis
List Price: $27.95

Lydia Davis has published numerous collections of short stories and essays. She lives in New York State.

Third time's a charm! The international authors of "Six Sentences" are back, and this time, no subject matter is taboo, and everything - and everyone - is fair game.

The collection features all-new work from some of the finest practitioners of the 6S genre, including Diane Brady, Brian Steel, Joseph Grant, Adam J. Whitlatch, Kim Tairi, Jeanette Cheezum, Kevin Michaels, Emily McPhillips, Rod Drake, Juliana Perry, Linda Simoni-Wastila, Richard M. Johnson, Crorey Lawton, Madam Z, and the former Poet Laureate of Queens, New York, Hal Sirowitz.

Publication Date:
Apr 28 2010
1452840067 / 9781452840062
Page Count:
Binding Type:
US Trade Paper
Trim Size:
5.25" x 8"
Black and White
Related Categories:
Fiction / Short Stories

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

SHOT NO 33, by Anthony Sides

Once there was a witch and I was her cat: she gave me the magic and I was pleased with that. Once there was a witch and I was kind of her cat: she gave me the magic and I was very pleased with that. Feeling feline: walking in a straight line; eating birds with white wine; smiling in the sunshine.

Sometimes you lose the love that you get: sometimes you choose to, sometimes you just forget. Sometimes you can lose the love that you get: sometimes you choose to, sometimes - you just forget.

I'm feeling feline. I'm feeling like crying.

Friday, 12 February 2010

SHOT NO 32: 5/11/1928 - 12/2/1980, by Anthony Sides

It's winter. Sun light slants across my knees. I've a cigarette in my fingers. In this arm chair with my cigarettes and coffee I feel like my father. I smoke with the same gestures as him. I pick my shoes up from next to the chair and put them down in front of me and put them on and tie the laces and thumb a shred of tobacco off my lower lip with the same movements as him.

I sometimes miss the town where I grew up. The funny friendly or prickish people in overalls out of the garages and engineering works for a 12 o'clock dinner hour. A ham barmcake and a beaker of tea or Nescafe or a pint. Mechanic's fingers reading The Sun.

My cigarette's at its end and here's the last mouthful of coffee.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Sun 7 Feb 2010



11am til 4pm, only £19/15 concessions
Red Triangle Vegetarian Cafe
160 St James's Street, Burnley, Lancs BB11 1NR 01282 832 319
Come to this new workshop and enjoy trying some easy, unusual, challenging and fun writing exercises that use randomization and play to trigger new ideas for your writing.
Whether you write poems, fiction, scripts, raps or blogs, and if you’re a beginner or you’re more experienced, this workshop is for you. You’ll look at your writing in a fresh way and take home 3 or 4 new pieces.
E mail Paper Planes to book your place and join poet and Commonword trustee Steven Waling and Comma fiction writer Anthony Sides for a fun, friendly and inspiring day of writing at this atmospheric and conveniently-located cafe.

Annie Clarkson: "inspiring... A lot of laughs, respect for others' writing, and encouragement. ... wonderful."
William West: "amazing classes. ... the teaching is pure gold!"
Lynn Myint-Maung: "thank you for the work shop ... I found you graceful and organized as facilitators, but also cheerful, kindly and playful and allowing so that the atmosphere was both safe and encouraging."
Adam Grant: "You guys are bloody superb, I love what you're doing with Paper Planes."
Pat Selden : "I never expected it to be this good."
Elaine Speakman: "It's my favourite way to spend a [day], I think it's lovely."

Tuesday, 12 January 2010


Easy to get bored with the "classic" Elvis songs you've heard hundreds of times, so here are some less-well-known ones you can enjoy: