Humanology

img_20161024_080353948_hdrIts been a strange yet effective few weeks. On returning to the UK after my swift sojurn to Italy, I developed gout rather quickly – not long after helping my pal Bendrix move home. There were also incidents with our neighbour & her misguided sense of superiority & entitlement. Apparently her piece of paper which allows her to live i her property (the deeds) is more important than our piece of paper (the tenancy agreement).  The tension began on the day after I passed my driving test, when she hurtled to my window screaming & shouting in the most barbaric fashion, like a zombie pressed against my window braying for blood. She then proceeded to hack away the vegetation about the grotto Id built at the front of the house – so i moved it along a bit & she hacked that vegetation down as well. So I pulled her up, told her that if she had a problem with my driving to treat me like any  Lancastrian & talk about it in a calm fashion – her response being ‘why dont you get back to Lancashire.’ Absolute philistine. So I told her I was an epic poet, said not to scapegoat us for her strategic life error of buying a house with neighbours, made her shake my hand & a tenuous peace has broken out. The whole thing has inspired me to write a novel of sorts, the first chapter you can read here...img_20161018_140057421_hdr

img_20161024_082503956_hdr

So, it all settl’d eventually, but my crippling gout & neighbourly distrust pinned me to the house – but I havent been idle. This weekend I am about to finish my Humanology – an expansion, modernization of the Thirukkural which I’m rather excited about. It feels like its my destiny – the boy from the back streets of Burnley about to create a text that good actually make the world a better place. Its been great fun finally slotting everything into place, making last many new kurals & sprinkling the others with words, sentiments & phrases from my library – a dash of Whitman here, a splash of Spenser there, & so on. But today I feel a little strange. The end of an epoch perhaps. The Humanology also represents the end of my Silver Rose Sonnet sequence. Tomorrow I shall attend to its finale  a final read through, then I am done.

img_20161024_081554238

Elsewhere, Tinky Disco is working on some new tunes – Solarised, Jiggy Jiggy Gang Bang – which Mike insists is now called All Swap Places – Disco Gold,  Daytona Beach (based on Tam Treanor’s Soul Feel) & a new tune called ‘Im  A Driver Now.’ We’ve got a gig in a few weeks at Edinburgh’s Stramash – so it’ll be good to unveil them there. The Mumble is closed down til the New Year, when I get back from a festive season in Seattle – apart from Mumble Theatre, which I’m ticking over with some cool interviews. O, & Burnley are holding their own in the Premier League, & have just beat Everton 2-1 8 my gout seems to have FINALLY cleared Up —- so yins, & yangs & all that, & lets get Humanology on the road…

img_20161019_085316846_hdr

Postscript

It is now 5AM, on the morning of the 28th Ocotober, 2016. Yesterday was a strange day, one oif signs & omens & the such like. As I was completing Humanology, Emily bought tickets to Seattle,  & Sophie came to tell me that her sister was dining with ouyr landlord their brother) who said that after recent complaints he was going to give us our notice in a couple of weeks. Perhaps it was inevitable – I did find a dead bird plumb outside our crazy neighbour’s door the other day – but the timing is strange. A month ago, when the shennanigins broke out – I was set to compose my Honeymoon poem, but the psychic shock of dealing with such a high-minded reprobate compelled to get my head down & create a masterwork (Was my thinking). This then took a full month to do, so its apt that the fallback from the encounter from the other side would first raise its head the very moment or so I felt content with my book.  This is the blurb I sent my agent in India (if they’re still alive) & one publisher in the UK;

***

Humanology consists of 1372 kural, being brief couplets of seven words originally used by a Tamil saint, Thuruvalluvar, about 2,000 years ago.  His book, the Thirukkural (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tirukku%E1%B9%9Ba%E1%B8%B7) forms the core of Humanology, to which I have added a great deal of wisdom both modern & antique, then tailored the whole for the English-speaking western mind.

In essence, where most modern guidebooks a rather niche, specializing on parenting, business, etc, Humanology has something to say about everything – a universal guide to life from birth to funeral. Including my brief prelude, the text is exactly 10,000 words. The fourteen chapters are divided as follows;

Life / Mentalities / Conduct / Vice / Virtue / Money / Friendship / Passion / Coupling / Homestead / Society / Governance / War / Divinity

I first encountered the Thirukkural in 2002, when I visited Tamil Nadu for the first time. Seven years later I returned to Tamil Nadu in order to translate the text, & seven years after that I have finally worked up my modernized transcreation. The original was perhaps a little too ‘eastern’ for the west – but in my version I hope to have made the wisdom more accessible, understandable, & with the brevity of the kural form, memorable. 

img_20161019_082333753

Interestingly, the whole essence of the Humanology is to give people advice – so last night we put it to the test, me & Emily in bed discussing our life & future the well-being of the girls. I remained strong, there’s a certain fulfillment of destiny occurring here, a chronic naturalness, if you will. Receiving that Tunbridge Wells HB overpayment  in 2001, just as I was beginning Axis & Allies couldnt have happened to anyone else at such a significant time. A few months later I was in Kanyakumari seeing Thiruvalluvar for the first time. On the same trip I’m sure I was plucked out of the wreckage of a bus by Saraswathi herself. Fourteen years later, this uneducated illigitamate has finally worked up a version of the kural that should satisfy the western world, & also improve it – in the very same region where I was based (Heather Lodge) where I first began to translate the text. It all feels meant to be & the end of an era. What the future holds we do not know yet, but it should be embraced, & I told Emily as much. However, the little details do need working out & as life is  game it must be played. The situation called for Composure & Planning, with the following kural being appropriate to our situation.

Composure

Where paranoia breeds panic
Hysteria feeds disaster

When equipoise fills minds
Words lilt untiltingly

Remain unruffled whenever effective
Even within infernos

Better tackling unspeculative actualities
Before gossipy suppositions

As rivers swallow stones
Composure absorbs hostility

As elephants arrows endure
Handle slander silently

Like cobras closing hoods
Over insults climb

 
Planning

Simple initiatives easy successes
Complexity invites complications

Sleep before rash deliberations
Night brings counsel

When leaders plan diligently
Success thrives abundantly

Thoroughly investigating prevenient futurities
Prevents disastrous eventualities

Our very cleverest rabbits
Dig several burrows

 img_20161019_085417548

 

Introducing Thomas Watson

watson-wgb-242x300About a year ago, I was indulging in a spot of Shakespearean scholarship, which showed how Shakespeare was connected to the Familists, & had also visited Douay in the 1570s where he seems to have studied with the English Jesuits. In recent days I’ve also been looking at another fellow who visited said College, a certain Thomas Watson, who we can make the most interesting connection to our bard in London, in the year 1589.  His name was Thomas Watson, born in St Olave Parish in 1555. There is a record for him studying at Winchester College in 1567, & when he supplied verses to Greene’s Ciceronis Amor (1589), Watson signed himself an Oxford man – which means that he studied at the that university at some point. This is confirmed by the Oxford antiquarian Anthony à Wood (Athenae Oxonienses 1691) who stated, “Thomas Watson, a Londoner born, did spend his time in this university, not in logic and philosophy, as he ought to have done, but in the smooth and pleasant studies of poetry and romance, whereby he obtained an honourable name among the students of those faculties.” One of these students could well have been William Stanley, who was 6 years younger than Watson & who studied at St Johns.

Watson was a prolific poet, & in a verse preface to his Latin version of the Antone, he gives us more gloss concerning his life; I spent seven or eight years far from my homeland, and learned to speak in diverse tongues. Then I became well versed in Italy’s language and manners, and also thy our tongue and ways, learned France. Wherever I was wafted, I cultivated the Muses as best I could, and Justinian was especially dear. But often Mars troubled Pallas against her will, and wars often interrupted my study. Yet I shunned the camps, save for the camps of Phoebus, which contained the pious Graces together with the Muses. Bartolus, you were a great tome. I was not permitted to carry you about, nor your legal puzzles, learned Baldus. I took up Sophocles, I taught his Muses to grow gentle. I made Latin out of his Greekish verse. Thus, though disturbed, I spent my hours a useful man, I taught Antigone how to speak Latin.

It seems very much that Watson’s time on the continent was a surreptitious escapade in Catholic scholarship. The English College diary at Douay records on October 15, 1576, ‘Dominus Watson went from here to Paris.’ The following May he is back in Douay, where we read ‘August: on the seventh day Master Watson, Master Robinson, Master Griffith, and some others left for England because of the riots.’  It is likely that he met the Italian Jesuit Metteo Ricci during this period, for a system of local memory training he would publish as a treatise in 1585 was identical to the one used by Matteo to wow the Chinese when he was there.

In an earlier post, I also placed Shakespeare in Douay 1575-76, which gives us our first, albeit tentative, connection. Three years later, Watson is living in Westminster, which means he could well have encountered our even chaperoned our young Shakespeare, who was also living in London at the time.  William Stanley may also have met Watson, in Paris 1582, for 14 years after then, in 1596,  the anonymous author of Ulysses upon Ajax  describes a certain, ‘Tom Watson’s jests, I heard them at Paris fourteen years ago: besides what balductum play is not full of them?” 

We now come to the very distinct possibility that in 1589 – when Shakespeare was also in London – that Watson was sharing the same social circle as the bard. In 1589, he had become the tutor to John Cornwallis, son of William, a high-ranking, yet Catholic, advocate of the Queen’s Bench. William also explains how Watson could ‘deuise twenty fictions and knaveryes in a play, which was his daily practyse and his liuing,’ a theatrical bent confirmed in the Palladis Tamia  Francis Meres in 1598, which places Watson amon such eminent company as Shakespeare, Marlowe, Peele, Kyd,  Drayton, Chapman, Dekker, and Jonson as being ‘our best for tragedie.’ Only one of Watson’s plays survive – ‘The Trewe Misterie of Hamlet, Prince of Denmarke.’ 1589, with its obvious Shakesperean connotations.

That he influenced Shakespeare was also suggested in a sidenote in the Polimanteia (1595), where a certain W. C. describes  a ‘Wanton Adonis’  (Shakespeare had just published Venus & Adonis) as ‘Watson’s heyre.’ Indeed, Watson’s 1585 Latin poem, Amyntas, end with their heroes transforming into flowers, while Watson’s translation of Coluthus’ erotic Raprus Helenae (1586) may also have influenced Shakespeare. One further significant influence Watson had on not just Shakespeare, but on English literature as a whole, was his ‘Passionate Century of Love’ (1582) – the first significant sonnet sequence of the age. These sonnets were actually three comblended sestets – ABABCC – the form which Shakespeare would us for his Venus & Adonis, the  first stanzas of which were written, I believe, in the mid-1580s.

That Shakespeare was actually Watson’s friend can be discerned thro’ analyzing a line in sonnet 32, the full text of which reads;

If thou survive my well-contented day,
When that churl Death my bones with dust shall cover
And shalt by fortune once more re-survey
These poor rude lines of thy deceased lover,
Compare them with the bett’ring of the time,
And though they be outstripped by every pen,
Reserve them for my love, not for their rhyme,
Exceeded by the height of happier men.
O! then vouchsafe me but this loving thought:
‘Had my friend’s Muse grown with this growing age,
A dearer birth than this his love had brought,
To march in ranks of better equipage:
But since he died and poets better prove,
Theirs for their style I’ll read, his for his love’.

The key line is  ‘ march in ranks of better equipage’ which connects to a statement by Nash, in his preface to Green’s Menaphon (1589) which expresses that Watson’s works, ‘march in equipage of honour.‘ Watson died in 1592, & if I am right, then this sonnet was written after that occasion, & when Shakespeare writes, ‘Had my friend’s Muse grown with this growing age, A dearer birth than this his love had brought, To march in ranks of better equipage: But since he died and poets better prove, Theirs for their style I’ll read, his for his love,’ he is stating that tho’ better exist than Watson, the love he professes in his poetry is worth emulating.

Now then. In the National Archives (PROB 11/118/441 1), there is the Prerogative Court of Canterbury copy of the will of Sir William Cornwallis, from 1611. which tells us that he became owner of an enormous mansion known as Fisher’s Folly in 1588 (on the site of the present Devonshire Suare) described as a huge structure with ‘gardens of pleasure, bowling-alleys and the like.‘ In that same year he employed Thomas Watson as a tutor for his son and heir, John Cornwallis. Also that year we have his daughter, Anne, becoming the author – transcriber rather – of the short anthology of sixteenth century poetry known as the Cornwallis-Lysons manuscript(Folger MS V.a.89).

(Incidentally, another person in the household was Cornelia Cornwallis, one of the younger daughters, who would eventually – in 1601 – marry Sir Richard Fermor of Somerton, Oxfordshire. His auntie, Anne(d.1550), had been the wife of William Lucy (d.1551), & thus the mother of Sir Thomas Lucy of Charlecote, Warwickshire, the very estate where the young Shakespeare was caught stealing deer!)

Back to the Cornwallis-Lysons book, James Orchard Halliwell-Phillips, the prolific nineteenth-century Shakespeare scholar and collector, became convinced that several poems were by Shakespeare. The fellow published the account of his acquisition of the russia leather-bound quarto bearing the large feminine signature, “Anne Cornwaleys her booke,” in a volume entitled, Catalogue of Shakespeare Reliques In the Possession of James Orchard Halliwell, Esq., F.R.S. in the year 1852.’ In it he compares the stanzas of one poem to those in the Passionate Pilgrim, a collection of 20 poems attributed to Shakespeare in 1599.

The lines by Shakespeare are an elegant little poem which appeared first in The Passionate Pilgrim, 1599, a surreptitious publication in which they are most incorrectly given. The present Manuscript offers not only a better arrangement of the stanzas, but also a far superior text, in proof of which we subjoin the last stanza:—

Manuscript

Now hoe, inoughe, too much I fear;
For if my ladye heare this songe,
She will not sticke to ringe my eare,
To teache my tongue to be soe longe;
Yet would she blushe, here be it saide,
To heare her secrets thus bewrayede.

Printed Text

(Poem XIX, The Passionate Pilgrim, 1599)
But soft; enough, too much I fear,
Lest that my mistress hear my song;
She’ll not stick to round me i’ the ear,
To teach my tongue to be so long:
Yet will she blush, here be it said,
To hear her secrets so bewray’d.

In this (manuscript) reading, we get rid of the harsh and false metre of the third (printed) line, and obtain a more natural imagery; the lady wringing, her lover’s ear for betraying her secrets, being certainly a more appropriate punishment for his fault than that of merely whispering (to) him.

Invention has been racked to account for the utter disappearance of the poems of Shakespeare in his own hand. The Rev. Mr. Hunter, in his recently published New Illustrations of the Life and Writings of Shakespeare, ingeniously supposes that the last descendant of the Poet, Lady Barnard (granddaughter of the Stratford citizen) in her over-religious zeal, may have destroyed any writings that remained in her hands. Whatever cause it may be owing, it is a certain fact that, at the present time, not a line of (William Shakspere’s) writing is known to exist. In the absence of his (literary) autographs, any contemporaneous manuscript is of importance; and in this view the present (Cornwallis) one may justly be deemed a literary curiosity of high interest.

In conclusion, I may observe that during a search of ten years later extended to about fifty years and after a careful examination of every collection of the kind I could meet with, either in public or private libraries, the present is the only specimen of any of Shakespeare’s writings I have seen which was written in the sixteenth century. Scraps may be occasionally met with in miscellanies of a later date, but this volume, in point of antiquity, may be fairly considered to be unique in its kind, and as one of the most interesting illustrations of Shakespeare known to exist

The volume also contains an attribution to a certain WS.  This fact, & all the others, really does reinforce a connection between Thomas Watson & Shakespeare that could well have been forged in Douay in the 1570s & carried on to London, 1589. Indeed, Fishers Folly, when Shakespeare came to London in the late 1580s, was originally the possession of the Earl Of Oxford, who made the place the, “headquarters for the school of poets and dramatists who openly acknowledged his patronage and leadership,” a fertile breeding ground indeed.

TEXTUAL COMPARISON

For me, the language, spelling & rhythms of the Shakespeare poem given above, ie;

Now hoe, inoughe, too much I fear;
For if my ladye heare this songe,
She will not sticke to ringe my eare,
To teache my tongue to be soe longe;
Yet would she blushe, here be it saide,
To heare her secrets thus bewrayede.

Have an extremely similar ring to the language, spelling & rhythms of the poem attributed to WS in 1577, which I gave in an earlier post, ie;

W.S. in Commendation of the author begins

Of silver pure thy penne is made, dipte in the Muses well
They eloquence & loftie style all other doth excell:
Thy wisedom great & secrete sense diffusedly disguysde,
Doth shew how Pallas rules thy minde, & Phoebus hath devisde
Those Golden lines, which polisht are with Tagus glittering sandes.
A pallace playne of pleasures great unto the vewers handes.
Thy learning doth bewray itselfe and worthie prayse dothe crave,
Who so thee knew, did little think such learning thee to have.
Here Vertue seems to checke at Vice, & wisedome folly tauntes:
Here Venus she is set at naught, and Dame Diane she vauntes.
Here Pallas Cupid doth detest, & all his carpet knightes:
Here doth she shew, that youthfull impes in folly most delightes.
And how when age comes creeping on, with shew of hoary heares,
Then they the losse of time repent, with sobbes & brinish teares.
Thou Ambodexter playste herein, to take the first rebounde,
And for to shew thy minde at large, in earth doth the same compound.
So that Apollo Claddes his corps all with Morycbus clothes,
And shewes himself still friendliest there, wher most of all he lothes

The Stress Plague – chapter 1

I’d had one a hell of a day at the University. The Dean, a grumpy old fart with a hair transplant & strangely orange skin had called me in for a ‘talk.’ His office stunk of peanuts, even though he didn’t eat them.

“Why is it, Donald, that every time there is a problem in my university, it can be somehow be traced to your faculty.”

“Perhaps it is because the literature students are passionate, sir.”
The dinosaur insisted on being called sir – a throwback to his army days ‘I was in Northern Ireland – bloody natives needed discipline, discipline, discipline. If we’d have given them discipline the Troubles would have ended a lot sooner than they did’ would be one of his typical outbursts. Today, however, was just that ice-cold stare you wanted to gouge out with a pick-axe.

“There is no need to be flippant, Donald. Just keep an eye on things. Cannabis smoking cannot be tolerated. It is a criminal offence.”

“You know I don’t smoke it anymore, sir.”
“Not you, your damn students. William Beauregard was found smoking on the campus grounds… again. One more time & he is out on his ears, expelled, you hear me Donald, expelled.”

I will have a word with him, sir.”
“Good… now would be an appropriate time.”
“Of course.”

As I got up to leave, he flew a few words into the room with a creepiness that always gave my arms little fields of goosebumps. “How is Mrs Claymore?” Now Mrs Claymore is my wife, a lovely, patient creature & the mother of my two children. At 35 years old she still retains the face & physique of a woman 10 years her younger, but being married to an English literature professor has aged her mentally by about 50 years.

“She is well.”
“Do give her my regards!”

What he really meant by those syrupy syllable was, ‘I’d like to fuck your wife.’ The old sleazebag. On leaving his office I made my way to campus for my obligatory chat with Will. He wasn’t one of my best students, academically, but he was an ex-curricular whirlwind, who brought a load of good ideas & energy onto the course, & some really good squidgy black from Liverpool. Gold Seal – the real deal. This is the kind of cannabis you don’t need to burn, rolling it up into thin, black lines you just drop into the rizla papers. As I told the Dean earlier that afternoon, these days it was extremely rare for me to roll up a joint, but I don’t mind having a wee toke, as I did upon offered me by Will as I sat down on the swing-a-chair in his room. He was sat on his bed, flicking through an old copy of WB Yeats.

“I love this guy, he’s fuckin’ brilliant,” he said in a thick Scouse accent. He never talked like that in the lecture hall, but the Everton flag pinned on the wall always seemed to pluck the Scouse out of him.

“Yeah, bit of a wild one was Yeats in his youth.”
“Listen to this shit, its cosmic. Turning and turning in the widening gyre  / The falcon cannot hear the falconer / Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold / Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world / The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere / The ceremony of innocence is drowned.”

“Yeah, great stuff Will.”

“So, I suppose you’ve heard I got caught by the groundsman smoking weed.”

“I have yes, that’s why I’m here, to reprimand you.”

“Jesus!”

“You really need to be more careful.”

“Yeah, yeah, boss, I’m on it.”

“Well do it – he’s on the warpath, the Dean, he says this is your last warning.”

There was a pause. I could hear Will thinking. He was destined for great things; he knew that, I knew that, but what they were only the gods knew. Maybe getting kicked off the course was part of that. He started skinning up. I started to speak.

“How much have you got, by the way, I’m seeing a pal later on, he’s a fan of your stuff?”

“Enough.”

“I’ll take a quarter, then, usual price?”

“It is.” As Will began to rummage about under his bed, I took in a bit more of his room. It reminded me of my own student days – a bit dirty, a bit smelly, books & coffee stains everywhere. I identified with the lad a lot. Like me, he had been born in a working class district & had to work a hell of a lot harder in order to get to degree-level. When it came to making a bit of extra money from selling smoke in order to subsidise his studies there was no way I could object. Especially when his shit was that good.

Will pulled out a pair of old football socks, in which he kept his cellaphane-wrapped lumps of smoke. He tossed one across to me, I caught it, & lay a £20 note at his desk.

“Cheers.”

“No problemo, boss!”

“Well, I’ll be off then. Think about what I’ve said, & I’ll see you in lectures on Friday.”

“Sure.” Will nonchalanty returned to skinning up his joint & I left his room. Back outside in the campus grounds, the late April sun sprinkling genuine warmth onto my skin. May was just round the corner, & with that the summer holidays & a chance to finally finish my book. Two years previously I’d sent the first three chapters to a publisher, who’d practically wet their pants in excitement about the prospect of a possible bestseller. It had all the ingredients, & my writing was, & I quote, ‘pulsatingly modern.’ Roll on 27 months & I still hadn’t finished it. Young kids & a heavy workload at the university had consumed my time & sucked all creativity out of me. My publisher was losing interest in the project, as, perhaps, was I.

————

“I think its time for a change of scenery, Benny.” The guy sat across from me in the pub was my friend, well more of a father figure, I guess. Twenty years older than my own 40 years, he lived like he was twenty & could party anyone anybody the table. A self-confessed member of the Lucky Bastards club, this immortal effervescence had won him a woman almost three decades years younger than him, called Stella. Her grandfather – Benny loved to tell anyone that would listen – had been a friend of the king! Their family had once owned a series of steel mills in the Motherwell area, & made an absolute fortune. Then they were bought out by Scottish Steel in the 1960s, an aggressive take over by all accounts, & so the family decided to buy farmland near Mugdock Country Park, to the north of Glasgow, & lead a much more pastoral existence. I’d been out there a couple of times visiting Benny & Stella, & last summer my whole family had even done a spot of holiday house-sitting while they were touring Venezuela. I’d also managed to get a couple of chapters of my book done out there.

“Well,” smirked Benny with that semi-toothless grin of his, “its funny you should say that. One of the cottages at Boxwheel has just come available.”
“Really?”

“Yeah . Gayle’s mother has taken a turn for worse, so she’s having to move to Inverness to be with her. She’s gave her months notice in yesterday.”

“Interesting…”

“Think of it, mate, we’d have a great life up there. You could get some writing done, its an easy drive into the university, the kids would love it. You’ve got first dibs, the inks still not dry on the months notice yet. It would save Stella’s family a whole heap of hassle if you just slip in through the back door, transfer the tenancy.

“It does sound enticing, that… I’ll speak to the wife tonight.”

“You know it makes sense pal. Anyway, who’s round is it?”

Back & Forth & Back Again

14449841_1721633091494973_8099041625279020699_n

I am writing this on a weirdly letter-spread out keyboard at the Le Clos , Notre Dam hotel, Paris, on a  sunday morning. Emily is asleep upstairs. After a tres joli walk thro’ Paris we shall be returning to Edinburgh tonight! I feel refreshed & revitalized… Paris is a sensational & serene city – the kind of place folk would build if they actually gave a fuc£!

img_20160921_082910368

img_20160921_091629738

img_20160921_114945016

On wednesday morning, we arrived early in Rome from Edinburgh, where we walked to the Protestant Cematary. As I showed Ems the graves of Shelley & Keats & couldn;t help picturing me here as a 21 year old at the dawn of my career – now I’m 40 I’ve outlived them all – a strange sensation.

14355014_1720439294947686_4571100429391444319_n

14355135_1720439291614353_1148587191980806579_n

From Rome we idled up the coast to Castiglione by train, a lovely spot with a medieval burgo looking out over the island-dotted Meditterranean. We were met by Dario, an Air B&B guy, who gave us the top room in his lovely house on the outskirts of Castiglione for £50 a night. I got obsessed with his upper terrace floor, after spilling a bit of tuna oil, which I thought I’d clean & thus made more stains! This incident began our bonnie & clyde style rampage thro Europe, leaving a trail of minor breakages & spillages in our wake.

img_20160922_105628216

img_20160922_105631318

img_20160922_105634270

img_20160922_105638411

img_20160922_105643140

img_20160922_105644412

img_20160922_105646489

img_20160922_150652670

img_20160922_150653851

img_20160922_150654961

img_20160922_105647639

14368829_1721034831554799_1009680372718255822_n

img_20160922_110225522

Thursday was spent all day on the beach – Ems really needed it, & I got the vibe that this was the Italian Goa. I’ll be back. I also filmed a couple of cantos of A&A in the locality, which was a swell thing to do.

14462981_1721035694888046_8314195081472167717_n

14359040_1721035751554707_3943005219611515851_n

14446216_1721034784888137_8605164350900489042_n

14364703_1721747324816883_6660083115731195551_n

Working on Axis & Allies
Working on Axis & Allies

14364919_1721747584816857_4203094515607742089_n

14364787_1721747884816827_908685614564852987_n

14359196_1721748104816805_2401129258123405503_n

14462977_1721748108150138_3609166745818712612_n

Next day we set off again, calling in Pisa en route for more Damological pilgrimages. I showed Ems scenes from my busking domicile in the Pisa, & wrote a few stanzas for my Honeymoon poem, the finale to the Silver Rose sequence.

My Pisan streets, how I return to thee,
This time a wife fix’d sweetly by my side,
That like a muse comes merrily to me,
Or is she you, who gaylie deified
My youthful verse, turning to poetry,
Ye urged me on the world to wander wide,
From Tuscan marriage; Muse I sense ye still
About my mind, my woman & my will.

14355608_1721748434816772_5282069242500604187_n

That evening we arrived, via Lucca, in Pistoia. A lovely medieval-hearted place ran by the lovely Giovanni, in which we took rooms in an amazing room in an amazing house. We dined out for the first & only time on the tour – delicisoso Tuscan cooking – & reveled in the funky Pistoian ‘everyone-knows-everyone’ vibe. Our rooms were above the city’s main, narrow artery, so Saturday night was echoing all night. This & the wine bubbled us up into a romantic glow, & suffice to say our lovemaking was sweet.

14358713_1721748624816753_4829999989310394673_n

14355762_10154101743678246_4626974484109998302_n

14355506_10154102047068246_5327301785740142608_n

14369856_10154101742923246_2050365848930082806_n

14441183_10154101743068246_1304027589241143607_n

14462759_1721748991483383_1133764759205663451_n

14449794_1721749204816695_2479968414696867176_n

img_20160924_080844603_hdr

img_20160924_080832061

The next morning we rose early, breakfasted, then took two trains to Bologona, thro extremely pretty & hilly countryside of the most luscious greens. Taking a flight to Paris, we landed 50 miles north at Beauvais, from where we caught a bus into Paris. Dropping us off near the Arc de Triumph, we both popped our Parisian cherry by conducting an epic walk along the Champs D’Elysee, thro’ the Tuileries Gardens, past the Louvre & onto Place Saint Michael, where our hotel was to be found.

14449067_1722346041423678_3078565644736510626_n

14370155_1722350118089937_7172288415822013951_n

14432951_1722350111423271_1706297710201292079_n

14441025_1722351308089818_140767790677993421_n

13592550_1722352948089654_566705709607167252_n

14479622_1722350344756581_3337088947864852658_n

14484993_1722878618037087_3419453935926352055_n

After indulging in the free champagne at the hotel., we stepped out into the Parisian night, full of euphoria & fun. After the mega-busy hustle-bustle streets of the Latin quarter, we paused in front of the impressive Notre Dame cathedral on the Lutetian Isle. Then, the day & the tour hit us, & we went back to our hotel for a much needed repose.

14446174_1722877698037179_1152919968446360821_n

14462933_1722877808037168_2050688517607762255_n

This morning, before dawn, I poured out some left over red wine & hit the streets. It was at the Pont Neuf Bridge that I found a perfect location for the final stanzas of the Honeymoon poem – & thus the Silver Rose. The idea is I leave two roses on a seat there, which will hopefully inspire future poets to leave two roses there also…

I am the Silver Rose this purple morn
That clambers over Paris with set poise,
This Seine, this celebration, seems reborn
In me, a poet feeling first her joys,
But amplified to grandeur by the horn
Of mankind’s pearl’d advancement, what a noise!
Shaking with thunderous force the vaults below –
No! The latter was in fact the metro.

I took a seat upon the Pont Neuf Bridge
& paus’d there like a panting cicerone -
Sat in a semi-circle hermitage,
I pinn’d my Silver Roses to the stone
The summit of a perfect pilgrimage
Thro’ which profund philosophies have grown
Into this verbose effigy of me -
Some Robin Hood, some Richard de la Lea.

Of future bards & artists who have felt,
Their passions with my poetry entwine,
Then find themselves in Paris; as I’ve knelt
By Shelley’s tomb, with music & with wine,
Unto this stone immortal let them melt
& place a pair of roses as a sign
To passing people, centuries apart -
True poetry still gushes from the heart!

Its All Coming to a Head…

In a good way, of course…

13508854_1663721593952790_5919507817461008631_n

So, August’s Mumble marathon is over, towards the end of which I passed my dribving test. I’d done well, really. I’d only had one official two-hour lesson, by the end of which I’m like, ‘I dont wanna learn about manuals – automatic are just ssssooooo much easier!’ Then I took a test in Livingston in mid-July – failing on manouvres & general driving – a second test in Glenrothes – failing on manouvere- & finally a third test in Kirkcaldy, which I passed!

Also finished is the Tinky Disco album… it didnt quite end up as I would have liked – Mike said we couldnt use two of the tracks, & our producer turning into a nobhead. Still, its sounding great, & on itunes & spotify, so we got something out of the £1000 we spent. I’m also determined to get another album out by Christmas! We start in earnest after this Saturday, which is a big album launch at Studio 24.

Before then, Donna (Emily’s mum) arrives from Seattle, so me & the wife are gonna have a wee break in Italy. This, then, serves as the perfect finale to the Silver Rose – a Honeymoon to counterpoise the Grand Tour. With me also reading out Axis & Allies at the moment (I’m on Canto 13 next), & making some last minute corrections as I go, plus going through my memoirs, which I’ve recently entitled ‘Epistles to Posterity,’ plus finishing off the Humanology Kural (Lifeology perhaps?) – there’s a definite Deus ex Machina element to my work at the moment. I’ve earmarked November for recording the next album, with a launch in December perhaps. The plan, then, is to finish my epic, my memoirs, my Silver Rose stuff AND a classic album all by December. After the New Year I can then focus on finishing off my lectures for about April first, 20 years after first starting out on the Poet’s Path…

img_20160912_130306978_hdr

img_20160911_190511359

img_20160909_174759345

img_20160830_182222378_hdr

img_20160907_153013905_hdr

Shafted by Colin Findlay

For anyone wondering about recording down the Lane Recording Studio, Prestonpans, with a certain Colin Findlay – I recommend that they basically run a mile. The guy is fundamentally a crook, who passes off his tepid, amateurish dithering as ‘studio production.’ After giving him £900 over the summer, we told him, reyt, Colin, can you finish the tunes off – he’s another £80, do 4 hours & we’ll take what you’ve got – it doesn’t have to be perfect. Instead, he decided we were a license to print money, says he does 6 hours work, sends us some half finished takes, & tells us;

It took best part of 6 hours to get them to this stage and I still have to make final mix tweaks and master so hang fire for now with payment and I will let you know what the final bill will be once the masters are produced.

So I said to him, that’s not what we asked you to do – we just wanted 4 hours of your time to give us as good a mix as you can, so we’ll just use those half-finished mixes. Like, we dont want to pay for you going off tangent. He replies

What`s  up Damo ! Why not finish what you have started, ?? The band has spent the whole summer and spent money recording this album and surely you want to properly finish the tracks ? I have never heard of this before in all my recording career.

After telling him it was the Tinky way, he says just give me the £80 for the 6 hours of his time (which we never asked for in the first place) & he’ll leave the summer’s work unfinished, as in;

Pay the £80 and that will be that. Don’t credit me on the album as the tracks are incomplete and not properly edited etc and sounds like poor mixing / Engineering and I don’t want to be credited for that.

I love that one – I’m like, do a better job pal, you’ve had 50 hours to do it in! Eventually, a couple of days later, after he realised his play to squeeze a few hundred quid more out of us had failed, he said he had the final mixes ready to send (all of a sudden). I replied I was ready to send him the same £80 I’d been offering to finish off the album in the first place before he went off tangent – so I sent him £40 (it was all I had in my account at that time) saying I’ll give him the other £40 later that day & I got this in reply;

All or nothing…………. Don’t trust you like I used to xx

I’m like, who the fuc£ is this guy? After giving him £940 out of £980, he tries to hold the album to ransom – all I can say is avoid this man & his recording studio like the plague. He’s a money-obsessed, slow & shoddy worksman, with no shred of decency. The result is, there are two versions of the Tinky Album in existence – the one we all listen to & the one on Colin’s computer because he’s a massive bell-end!!

Forrest Fenn’s Treasure

 

Thrill-of-the-Chase-map

“If I was standing where the treasure chest is, I’d see trees, I’d see mountains, I’d see animals. I’d smell wonderful smells of pine needles, or pinyon nuts, sagebrush—and I know the treasure chest is wet.”Forrest Fenn

A few years ago, a certain octogenarian, Forrest Fenn, hid a treasure chest somewhere in the Rocky Mountains of America. Since then, many a puzzle-solver has attempted to crack the poem which contains clues to the treasure’s location. It reads;

As I have gone alone in there
And with my treasures bold,
I can keep my secret where,
And hint of riches new and old.

Begin it where warm waters halt
And take it in the canyon down,
Not far, but too far to walk.
Put in below the home of Brown.

From there it’s no place for the meek,
The end is ever drawing nigh;
There’ll be no paddle up your creek,
Just heavy loads and water high.

If you’ve been wise and found the blaze,
Look quickly down, your quest to cease,
But tarry scant with marvel gaze,
Just take the chest and go in peace.

So why is it that I must go
And leave my trove for all to seek?
The answers I already know,
I’ve done it tired, and now I’m weak.

So hear me all and listen good,
Your effort will be worth the cold.
If you are brave and in the wood
I give you title to the gold.

The poem is contained in an autobiographical sketch called the Thrill of the Chase, of which Fenn says, ‘ The chapters in my book have very subtle hints but are not deliberately placed to aid the seeker. Good luck in the search.’

So where to begin – well, in a case of x marks the spot, there are two crosses on the treasure map – one should be a decoy & one help to hone in on the treasure. So, the peak marked with a cross in Wyoming is Garret Peak, its the most central cross, so on a hunch we’ll begin our search there.

Begin it where warm waters halt
And take it in the canyon down,

This is a reference to fishing on the Green River, which flows through a canyon & becomes too warm for the fish in the summer. Thus ‘Begin it where warm waters halt’ is a reference to fishing – in Fenn’s book his love of fishing, especially fly-fishing, is everywhere.

Put in below the home of Brown

‘Put in’ is a term for launching a small boat – this is a reference to sailing on Green River Lake, which sits underneath Osborn Mountain.  Henry Fairfield Osborn was the man who assisted Barnum Brown’s search for dinosaurs in Wyoming – the first Tyranasaurus was found by them – & the bones were displayed in the American Natural History Museum paleolithic section founded by Osborn – thus Osborn is the home of Barnum Brown’s finds. In Fenn’s book, his love of artifact hunting & deep history is everywhere.

data=IJPm8cONmvt5mjhbXqOBNo5Ihxhx8se_720AHF4Jh6tyJf1X9ru_,paUNMjOy-cLNyFTZWfO5e5alAiJZOYKKz1MPRzGYzSsxmjJNccqqUszAA_xomdWbjGWQpBdFDS3LDA_m7_kVpOC-xDEtAD8w76dkwBcTlAJK

clearckmap4

At the south east corner of the lake, Clear Creek begins – there is a trail to follow which leads through pinyon pine trees (rare in Wyoming) – along which one comes to Clear Creek Falls, which is described in Fenn’s third stanza;

From there it’s no place for the meek – The meek inherit the earth, thus we need to follow water

The end is ever drawing nigh –  line evocative of a waterfall’s edge & the eternal movement of the water as it approahes the drop

There’ll be no paddle up your creek, – you cant paddle a waterfall & the movement is, of course, upwards

Just heavy loads and water high. – Water high is pretty obvious, heavy loads could mean the transporting your boat which Fenn clearly tells us has been ‘put in’ by rope – up the falls

———————————————————-

If you’ve been wise and found the blaze,
Look quickly down, your quest to cease,
But tarry scant with marvel gaze,
Just take the chest and go in peace.

This is a fun stanza. In 1988 – the same year Fenn was diagnosed with cancer – the forest around Clear Creek beyond the waterfall was charred by a blaze caused by lightning (Hiking Wyoming’s Wind River Range).  Tarry scant with marvel is an allusion to Hemingway sending a copy of a short story (tarry scant) to Mcleish who wrote a poem to Andrew Marvell in the style of His Coy Mistress. In a letter to Mcleish, Hemingway calls Mcleish ‘Andy Marvell’ (Selected Letters 1917-1961, p.326) & in the Thrill of the Chase there is a glaring error made by Fenn concerning Hemingway, which I beleive was one of the subtle clues made to draw one’s attention to Hemingway. The short story was called ‘Wine of Wyoming’ in which we read; 

‘Labour day we all went to Clear Creek.. Madame said. 
‘Oh, my God, you ought to have been there all right. We all 
w&it in the truck. Tout le monde est alle dans le truck. Nous 
sommes partis le dimanche. C’est le truck de Charley.’ 

IMG_0462

For me, Forrest Fenn has hidden his treasure in river-cave beneath Clear Creek Natural Bridge. When he writes, ‘As I have gone alone in there’ & ‘Your effort will be worth the cold,’ wading into the waters to reach the chest makes sense, especially when supported by two of the clues Fenn has given us over the past few years.

If I was standing where the treasure chest is, I’d see trees, I’d see mountains and I know the treasure chest is wet. 

Take a flashlight and a sandwich. 

images

The other hints Fenn has given us can check off one by one;

There’s no need digging in the old outhouses, the treasures’ not associated with any structure. CHECK
It is not in Nevada. CHECK
The treasure is not in a grave yard. CHECK
The treasure is higher than 5,000 feet above sea level. CHECK
If you had the coordinates, you would be able to find the treasure. CHECK 

The treasure is not hidden in Idaho or Utah. CHECK
The treasure is not in a mine. CHECK
It is at least 8.25 miles north of Santa Fe. CHECK
The treasure is hidden below 10,200 feet. CHECK 
It is more than 300 miles west of Toledo. CHECK
I never said it was buried, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t. CHECK

Is it not possible to find chest without leaving computer & google earth – CHECK

There isn’t a human trail in very close proximity to where I hid the treasure.”  CHECK
Not associated with a structure……CHECK

I would like to know if the blaze can be found during the day without a flashlight. “I would say yes. – CHECK

I made two trips from my car to the hiding place and it was done in one afternoon.”CHECK

————–

I might be wrong, I might be right – perhaps – but many of the clues in my solution synch up with Fenn & his lifestyle, so I ‘m probably right. Fenn announced the treasure in 2010, & a few months earlier, in September of 2009, he attending the Black Bow Tie event in Cody Wyoming in his capacity as a board member of the Buffalo Bill Society. So he was definitely in the right area at the right time

As for me, I live in the UK, & I’m hoping that if I am right – which I most probably am –  & someone in the US does find the treasure, then they’d give me a wee share. Indeed, just after I sent Fenn my solve he made a massive retreat from the chase, stating that on doctor’s orders;

I’m cutting back on my activities, which means going to lunch, seeing people, and time on my computer. f”

Coincidence? I think not…

Enter The Rose

IMG_20160621_051911133_HDR

IMG_20160607_120756990

It is now the middle of the day on midsummer’s day, 2016. It has been a rather unsummery & harsh fortnight or so – the European monsoon season that kicks in every June putting in an appearance once again. However, on other fronts it has been a pretty cool month. Axis & Allies is, as a formulated poem, complete. All the titles & dates are in neat positions & in bold, there is no stanzetta that needs converting into verse. I’ve sent it to a coupel of people including an American poet named Dana Gaio or something who like my Language of Birds, heaping praise upon my traditional style, then completely clammed up about A&A – refusing to acknowledge a word. Its quite an interesting trait in poets when faced with A&A – its like complete denial.  I have flicked through the poem, & I know already there’s a few touches & edits that need to happen – but in all sense of structure & passion, the poem is finished.

13325505_1733922363522417_481645722015216587_n

13406947_1733922333522420_3095485130559696994_n

Music wise, the band is getting better all the time. Me & Al have finished draft two of the album- ie sorted out bass & guitars – while we’ve played two big gigs in the past few weeks. The Meadows Festival on a glorious sunday afternoon where I could see folk filling up the entire mile or so of greenery before me – all listening to my litle old band. What was funny was Kennys insistence on taking a line of Luke’s stuff, presuming it was an upper (it wasnt) & wobbling off stage at the end of the gig. Cue me thinking he’d had a heart attack & was in hospital, when all along he’d just got back on stage with the final band – Nipple of Venus.

13419123_1733939656854021_3411792718897008675_n

13406975_10154275194842520_6314106449681232111_n

IMG_20160610_192803492
My new mate Dexter : The Psychedelic Yardie, who I met at Eden

IMG_20160610_195439686

Five days later we are at Eden festival & the Furry Chillum,  a gig which Kenny was late for, but kicked off a great Mumble review & good old time, including a brilliant jam for my 40th birthday at Jonny’s bus. It was also mine & ems’ anniversary, & we were joined at the hipp all weekend, very much in love & happy as larry. You can read all about the festival here. Since Eden, we’re welcoming Al’s pal, Bill, to the band on sax. This Friday we go for draft 3 of the album – but Ali from the Matta has thrown a strop & we can’t use Mindis a Make-up or Ceasefire. Instead we’ll bring Poppadom back & record Matty Grooves at Steves. There’s also a gig this weekend in Glasgow @ Nice & Sleazys, after which we’ll chill for  while.

IMG_20160610_165625052_HDR

13412871_10154275194777520_5160547412364559114_n

IMG_20160607_063202550IMG_20160607_114710158IMG_20160607_070330520

IMG_20160607_064108574_HDR

mumble-poster

IMG_20160617_170042417In the real world, the English beat Wales in the Euros, but Wales topped the group, while Jo Cox was murdered by some bell-end, but her martyrdom should swing Thursday’s coming referendum on Europe towards the ‘Remain’ camp. Back in my world, I’ve been Mumbling hard in anticipation of August, & I’ve had a wee surge of sonneteering. It began on the train to Burnley where I began the first of 3 sonnets which tie the Humanology project into the rest of the Silver Rose. In essence, there will be 6 grand sequanzas of 196 sonnets each, giving a grand total of 1176. Check this out, my birthday is : 11-6-76. That is some pretty fucked up numerology if you ask me.

IMG_20160617_164647299

IMG_20160618_050311343_HDR

13501949_10154311671599874_1660757225534984605_n

IMG_20160618_182240562

13495189_10154308866384874_4309523229403616411_n

Burnley was great n’all – Ems had bought me a ticket for the Stone Roses & I went with my sister & Simon to the Etihad stadium. It was awesome gig – much better than Heaton Park, & one in which the first album was played in its entireity – a great moment really seeing as I’m trying to emulate it at the moment. Yeah, what a gig, the best I’ve ever been to in my life, I think, the Etihad was like a modern Collosseum & my favorite gladiators were on cracking form – their new single, All For One, if a little plastic in the recording was majestic in such an environment. Aye,  I love the Roses me!

IMG_20160618_211504057_HDR

IMG_20160607_063215466

IMG_20160607_064056145

IMG_20160621_051941177_HDR

On the train back after the gig, I penned the third of my three sonnets n’all, & getting home found they fit into the Silver Rose schema perfectly. Weird that it happened the weekend I saw the Roses n’all. So in essence as A&A is an Iliad, & The Silver Rose is the Odyssey.  In the 80s, Alex Fergusson of Man Utd said;

My greatest challenge is not what’s happening at the moment, my greatest challenge was knocking Liverpool right off their fucking perch. And you can print that.

For me its a case of knocking Homer off his perch (if indeed one guy wrote the poems) x

Dark Age Candles (IX) : The Agathyrsi

 

Herodotus
Herodotus

A couple of posts back I gave a detailed explanation as to why I thought the Attacotti were the original Pictish tribe who settled in Britain, builders of the brochs which mark their territories – from Caithness & Sutherland, through the Orkneys & on up to the Shetlands. I also postulated that the name Attacotti has a meaning of ‘both acotti,’ but gave a vague suggestion that this would be connected to Gethus & Gothus, Pictish King who settled the Orkneys. In this post I would like to show you my most recent findings on the matter, & as usual it begins with something I missed in my own researches. In his ‘History & Chronickles of Scotland’ Boece writes;

Nocht lang efter, a banist pepill, namit Pichtis, come furth of Denmark, to serche ane dwelling place ; and, efter that thay war inhibit to land baith in France, Britane, and Ireland, thay landit in Albion. Sum authouris sayis, thay come first in Orknay ; and, sone  efter, in Cathues, Ros, Murray, Mernis, Angus, Fiffe, and Louthiane : and expellit all the pepill, that inhabit that region afore thair  cuming. Thir pepill war callit Pichtis, outhir for thair semely personis, or ellis for the variant colour of thair clething ; or ellis thay war namit Pichtis, fra the Pichtis namit Agathirsanis, thair anciant faderis. In probation heirof, Orknay wes calht the auld realme of  Pichtis. Siclike, thee seeis betwix Cathnes and Orknay war namit Pentland Firth ; and all the landis, quhilkis ar now callit Louthiane, war callit than Pentland.

Boece’s Agathirsanis are the anciently recorded’ Agathyrsi,’ mentioned by the father of history himself, Herodotus, in the middle of the 5th century BC. Of course, chispologically the name is a fit to my theory of ‘both acotti’, for acotti & agathy are philologically nigh identical. In addition the ‘gath’ element really does suggest it is behind the names of kings Gethus & Gothus.

gr01_balkN[1]

 

So who were the Agathyrsi? A number of Pictish legends sees the name being used for the ‘Cruithni’ – ie the earliest Picts who came to Britain. So far, so good, for Gethus & Gothus also belonged to this group. The idea, then, is that it the elements of the Agathyrsi somewhere  Herodotus migrated to the far north of Britain. Herodotus tells us that by his time they were of mixed Dacian-Scythian origin, who dwelt in the plain of the Maris (Mures), in Transylvania, Romania.

From the country of the Agathyrsoi comes down another river, the Maris, which empties itself into the same; and from the heights of Haemus descend with a northern course three mighty streams, the Atlas, the Auras, and the Tibisis, and pour their waters into it.

Kaspar Zeuss has suggested that the Hunnish ‘Acatir’ tribe is based on these Agathyrsi, which mirrors my assumption that the Acotti are also based on them.

Herodotus describes the Agathyrsoi as, ‘the most luxurious of men and wear gold ornaments for the most part: also they have promiscuous intercourse with their women, in order that they may be brethren to one another and being all nearly related may not feel envy or malice one against another. In their other customs they have come to resemble the Thracians.’ He also pontificates on a  Pontic Greek myth that describes the Agathyrsi as being named after a legendary ancestor Agathyrsus, the oldest son of Heracles.

Upon this he [Heracles] drew one of his bows (for up to that time Heracles, they say, was wont to carry two) and showed her the girdle, and then he delivered to her both the bow and the girdle, which had at the end of its clasp a golden cup; and having given them he departed. She then, when her sons had been born and had grown to be men, gave them names first, calling one of them Agathyrsos and the next Gelonos and the youngest Skythes; then bearing in mind the charge given to her, she did that which was enjoined. And two of her sons, Agathyrsos and Gelonos, not having proved themselves able to attain to the task set before them, departed from the land, being cast out by her who bore them; but Skythes the youngest of them performed the task and remained in the land: and from Skythes the son of Heracles were descended, they say, the succeeding kings of the Scythians (Skythians): and they say moreover that it is by reason of the cup that the Scythians still even to this day wear cups attached to their girdles: and this alone his mother contrived for Skythes. Such is the story told by the Hellenes who dwell about the Pontus.

th47ODG5JN

We must now ask ourselves is it a coincidence that in the very place where Boece places the Agathirsanis,we find an island called Sketis (also Ocitis), & that the brother of Agathyrsos is called Skythes.

It makes sense. The Picts were at least part ruled by their druids, & there are several notices in the annals that the Agathyrsi are clearly Pictish:

1 – Virgil tells us the they tattooed their bodies (picti, Aeneid iv. 136), describing ‘Cretans and Dryopes and painted Agathyrsians, mingling around his altars, shouting.’

2 – Aristotle tells us (Problemata, xix. 28), ‘Why are the nomes which are sung so called ?  Is it because before men knew the art of writing they used to sing their laws  in order not to forget them, as  they are still accustomed to do among the Agathyrsi?’ The same method of memory was also used by the Druids, of which number some were attached to the Picts.

3 – In the first century, Pliny alludes to the blue hair of the Agathyrsi : ‘Leaving Taphrae [a town near Crimea], and going along the mainland, we find in the interior the Auchetae, in whose country the Hypanis [the Bug river] has its rise, as also the Neuroe, in whose district the Borysthenes [the Dnieper river] has its source, the Geloni, the Thyssagetae, the Budini, the Basilidae, and the Agathyrsi with their azure-coloured hair. Above them are the Nomades, and then a nation of Anthropophagi or cannibals (Pliny the Elder IV, 26).’ This echoes  the poet Claudian’s description of Britain as being “… clothed in the skin of some Caledonian beast, her cheeks tattooed, and an azure cloak, rivalling the swell of Ocean, sweeping to her feet  (On the Consulship of Stilicho:2)

Ammianus-Marcellinus[1]

4 – In the 380s,  in his Res Gestae Ch. 22, writes;

The Danube, which is greatly increased by other rivers falling into it, passes through the territory of the Sauromatae, which extends as far as the river Don, the boundary between Asia and Europe. On the other side of this river the Alani inhabit the enormous deserts of Scythia, deriving their own name from the mountains around; and they, like the Persians, having gradually subdued all the bordering nations by repeated victories, have united them to themselves, and comprehended them under their own name. Of these other tribes the Neuri inhabit the inland districts, being near the highest mountain chains, which are both precipitous and covered with the everlasting frost of the north. Next to them are the Budini and the Geloni, a race of exceeding ferocity, who flay the enemies they have slain in battle, and make of their skins clothes for themselves and trappings for their horses. Next to the Geloni are the Agathyrsi, who dye both their bodies and their hair of a blue colour, the lower classes using spots few in number and small—the nobles broad spots, close and thick, and of a deeper hue.

Again, that the Agathysi nobility’s  have more tattoes reflects the Picts, whose name, according to Isidore of Seville ‘(Origines, Book XIX Part 23 No. 7) ‘is taken from their bodies, because an artisan, with the tiny point of a pin and the juice squeezed from a native plant, tricks them out with scars to serve as identifying marks, and their nobility are distinguished by their tattooed limbs.’

It is clear that the Picts & the Agathyysi are drawn from the same stock, & there is even a mention of them migrating to Britain made a thousand years before Boece. Roundabout the year 400,  the Roman grammarian Maurus Servius Honoratus was a late fourth-century and early fifth-century grammarian wrote a commentary on the works of Virgil. In it, he relates that in about the year 300 AD the Agathyrsi sent across a contingent over the sea to Scotland, where it became identified with the Picts, the most formidable warriors who would exhaust all who stood against them. It is this slim bit of information that seems to prove everything I have been aiming at. Not long after 300 AD the Attacotti appear in the annals. That means not long before then, one of the two Acotti tribes must have blended with the other. Thus the Agathyrsi arriving among the Picts c.300 AD are these. Simple, but absolutely fascinating.

 

Almost 40

 

13336064_1650703095254640_7472981214868939560_n

13342868_1650708385254111_8237778939385542531_n

Yesterday was the last day I will ever compose an Axis & Allies tryptych. In fact, I did 5. The first three were in the morning, walking in glorious sunshine before settling down at the lake. Rhondendrum bushes were in full bloom, bluebells were still regnal in visual lucidity, great hosts of insects were covering the lake like clouds of sealike-spray. As I finished my last line I entwined its meaning with Arthur casting Excalibur into a lake after his death at Camlann. It was a bit like Prospero snapping his wand in the Tempest as, after pacing by the lake a few moments & milking the moments, I tossed my pen into the lake & watched the bubbles from its falling slowly pop into nothingness. Getting back to the ranch, I then realised that there were, in fact, two stanzas still to write – one’s on the 9-11 ‘attacks’ that I wanted to include to reflect my own studies into the actual events of 9-11, not those force fed us by the media only moments after the towers were hit.

My two pens lie here...
My two pens lie here…

So its done, or at least the research & writing is done. 900 tryptychs, 100 cantos & .one lovely, long, luxurious epic poem. My work is done. I’ve summarised all history up to my time, & reflected the zeitgeist as best as I can, even projected into the future in the best epic tradition. All that remains is a singular read through – I’m at Charlemagne at the moment – neatening, improving, etc. I admit, this is a process that may take a lifetime – & thats my perogative. But I have to draw the line at some point, & with the poem fresh in my mind & having reached its final form, then that time is just about now. Plus I turn 40 in 9 days.

13319735_1649656882025928_7631406257521408232_n

The day before I turn 40, by the way, still in my 30’s, Tinky Disco play Eden. A week before that (in 3 days) we play the Meadows Festival & at the moment we are in the process of recording our first album. We put the drums down the other day, & we were gonna finish everything off with Cliff in Germany. Unfortunately he got all Teutonic on its ass, demanding we only work with half the tracks. So we’re not going now & gonna finish it off ourselves. We gonna stay at the Lane Studios in Prestonpans,  the producer, Colin, is a sound, enthusiastic guy & I reckon he’ll deliver the goods.

So for the next few weeks I’ll be reading through A&A & recording the Tinky Album. The latter begins like Sergeant Peppers & finishes like the Stone Roses first, two models of some quality on which to place the piece. It reminds of something I read in Machiavelli.

Men nearly always follow the tracks made by others & proceed in their affairs by imitation, even though they cannot entirely keep to the tracks of others or emulate the prowess of their models. So a prudent man should always follow in the footsteps of great men & imitate those who have been outstanding. If his own prowess fails to compare with theirs, at least it has an air of greatness about it.

Here’s a few images from recent days, such as the Hibs first cup Scottish win in 114 years, plus some videos from last Friday’s Tinky gig;

IMG_20160522_153705376_HDR

IMG_20160522_161403598

IMG_20160527_192934451

Reviewing – Ode to Joy at the Usher Hall (read the review here)

My Uncle Jeff is now the mayor of Burnley

My Uncle Jeff is now the mayor of Burnley

13254472_784337335000361_6350202264074393453_n

IMG_20160521_182738590

M’lady’s new boots

IMG_20160529_221604529

IMG_20160528_142210751

IMG_20160531_203916827_HDR

IMG_20160528_194900279

IMG_20160515_211446660

IMG_20160531_212232083

IMG_20160529_222835201