Farrago Poetry Zoo Awards: Anna Chen and CSM score his’n’hers prizes …


the lovely one got hers for Best Performance By A London poet (‘Ackney is London, innit?) and the cat in the hat got his for Best Fiction Performance (as if all my performances weren’t fiction of one kind or annuver) and they look lavly in our living room. Making the presentation: Farrago mover’n’shaker John Paul O’Neill and, of course, it all took place at the RADA foyer cafe in Malet St, in the heart of London’s glittering West End.  This was a coupla weeks back, admittedly, but it’s so hard to keep up with such a fast-moving existence, I’m always a few weeks behind myself …

Meanwhile, please be advised that we still have a few places left for seekers after wisdom and enlightenment via my Hothouse course … kicking off this coming Thursday, Feb 20, in the heart of London’s leafy West Hampstead. Hurry hurry hurry, but please form an orderly queue and try not to trample the peeps in front of you …

Jewish Book Week: Old Punk Prepares Reminiscences, Rants And Anecdotes

CSM HamHigh

A little while back, I was delighted to receive — and eagerly accept — an offer to join a panel chaired by my old friend and eternally ageless sistren Vivien Goldman on The Jewish Roots Of Punk as part of Jewish Book Week, taking place on Saturday March 1 at 9pm, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London, N1 9AG. Also on board will be Geoff Travis, Daniel Miller and Toby Mott, so a good time should be had by all, awreddy. (Incidentally, the event immediately before us will feature Mark Lewisohn talking about his rather impressive new Beatles book Tune In, the first volume of the massive eventual trilogy All These Years.)

We haven’t (yet) done anything as grownup and efficient as pre-planning an agenda, but I assume that we may be talking about what it  means to be Jewish, what it means to be punk and how these two states of being might conceivably intersect. I also assume that, old and dignified as we all now are, there will be little or no spitting, kicking over of microphones, shaking up beer cans and popping them in the general direction of the audience or, for that matter, mass chanting of Hava Nagila.

Nevertheless, whilst engaging in preliminary thinkage concerning Malcolm McLaren, Joey Ramone and many more (not to mention Bob Dylan and Marc Bolan, though I suspect someone will), I was reminded of a favourite adage of my late sainted father: “If I ever find out that the Worldwide Jewish Conspiracy really exists, I’ll be furious … because I was never invited to join.”

Incidentally, the above ridiculously flattering portrait may seem like an outtake from my failed audition to become the next Dr Who (damn you, Peter Capaldi!) , but it was in fact taken by Nigel Sutton on behalf of that august periodical The Ham And High on the occasion of my being Cover Boy t’other week.

It only remains to animadvert that while the next session of my Hothouse Project: Journalism As Craft And Art course (commencing February 20) is filling up nicely, we still have a few places left … so don’t be shy. I’ll be gentle with you … maybe.

Me ears are alight —



— because people have been saying nice things about me. (Apparently I’m mentioned somewhere in Penguin Classic by Morrissey, but we’ll refrain from going there, thankee kindly.)

More to the point, I was recently sent an advance copy of Colin Harper’s new biography of legendary guitar person John McLaughlin, Bathed In Lightning, to be published by Jawbone in early 2014. Opening it up, the first piece of text I encountered was a paragraph describing a 1975 performance by Mahavishnu Orchestra extracted from an ancient NME feature … and that a phrase from said feature inspired the title of the book.

Needless to say, yr correspondent is deeply honoured that something he wrote in a hurry almost forty years ago, possibly whilst chemically assisted, and which the author had totally forgotten, should have caught a particular moment to the extent that it could resurface after so much time has passed. Also needless to say, Mr Harper’s book is thoroughly recommended: not only for the author’s wonderful taste in hip epigraphs, but for his evocation of the ’60s worlds of British jazz and the contemporary session scene and his unravelling of the mystic manner in which his subject, a man never renowned for being a ‘big character’ (like Miles, Moon or Lord Keef), somehow makes such Big Music.

Plus: an interview I did way back in the summer (boy, do I remember summer!) over a most congenial and sunny-in-all-conceivable-ways pub-garden afternoon with Dave Lewis for his Led Zeppelin magazine Tight But Loose crops up in their latest fab ish. Dave tells me that (a) at 9000 words, it’s the longest interview TBL has ever published, and (b) that I’m the only rockjournotype ever namechecked onstage by Mr Plant during two separate and distinct Zep concerts.

And just the other night, while flicking through channels at some obscenely early hour of the morn (as one does) , I found myself in the living room staring at myself on BBC4 attempting to pontificate authoritatively about something or other.

My persona seems to have gotten loose and is out there having fun. If you see it, send it on home to me … yeah!



www.universalfreebackup.com — NSA/GCHQ’s PR problem SOLVED!


Paranoid about the NSA and GCHQ monitoring and storing every last little bit of your online and digital activity? So are lots of other people. It is, of course, a major problem for those organisations, tireless defenders of your liberty that they are, but there is a simple PR solution to the thorny issue of how they can persuade you to love them rather than fear and mistrust them.

My good friend Steve Ingamells and I came up with this a few weeks back, and now the time has come to share it with them – and you. Needless to say, if they adopt our concept, we’ll want paying … BIG TIME. Points, royalties and everything.

Here’s the deal. They open a website called www.universalfreebackup.com, and decorate the homepage with a cheery cartoon figure of a top-hatted Fred Astaire-alike with a stylised memory stick in place of a hoofer’s cane. The copy should read something like SO:

“Lost all your unbacked-up documents and data in a hard drive crash? Someone nicked your smartphone? Dropped your Kindle? RELAX! FUGGEDDABOUDIT!

“Not only do we have all your stuff – but we’ll know the second you lose it, and we’ll restore every last byte via the DropBox we’ve already set up for you!

“And this service is FREE!

“Don’t even bother to thank us — it’s all part of our mission to keep you, your loved ones and your family pet safe from REALLY BAD PEOPLE!

“Universal Free Backup. Brought you by the NSA and GCHQ. We’ve got a lot to love.”

Over to you, guys …