Tag Archive: cancer


I’ve been damned by some as an unbeliever, an anti-christ. It pleases me, therefore, and reinforces my self esteem, to know that to others I’m the cool atheist across the street.

My youngest daughter calls me daddy and my mother insists that I was brought up a good catholic kid and on the right track.

So I drink a lot of whisky. So did my grandfather. Who doesn’t? It’s a family thing. At the age of fifteen I was a good father to three kids, and I always went to confession.

Now, suddenly, I’m an apostate Jew. I wake up one morning and that’s it.

Corner shop proprietor Anita Devi — I knew her father, he was like a Rabbi to me, although he was an apostate Sikh — told local reporters: ‘I’m sorting the papers for the delivery wallahs, you know, like it’s 5am, and in walks Dustin Hoffman. “It’s not safe,” he says, “but I’m a very good driver, Mrs Robinson.” I ask you, do I look like a Nazi dentist?’

No comment, no jazz.

However, Kafka told me this sort of thing was a possibility and, hey, Anita, he gave me a couple of other clues too: like, until this beard grew overnight I was Al Pacino a la Godfather 2, like an old dead uncle always insisted I should be. And Bukowski told me once that when I realised I’d failed as a writer I could maybe scratch a living as an Ernesto Guevara lookalike. Now I’m a 55 year old Ratso Rizzo.

Life’s a bitch. Forget about it. Just learn the lesson: never judge a close relative by his cover.

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God told me…

…that I’ve been neglecting my blog of late, so, to keep him happy, here’s a little snatch of a rather one-sided conversation about music I had with Jon Hilltown the other day:

‘I love it. Late at night I think about it. I slip a disc in it and I turn it on: it’s a darkness like velvet.

The low lights create highlights that shimmer. Then I cry.

So I drink and smoke and listen to the jazz and imagine it could be me making that beautiful music. All the time I know it’s Cloudy.

Nobody’s fooling anyone.

For twenty years she mixes that brass and breath and now it sounds like heaven.

The sax teaches her how to sing and the traps and the bass and that belligerent guitar unite and become her heartbeat. Then her rice-paper-voice-skin freezes beneath those lime-lights.

She is born for this. I am just a pair of ears.

I still feel her nerve-ends stinging like a high-hat shimmy, slightly but work-ably out of time. Her blood is air to me.

I recall her touch and it’s like being alive again but ever so secretively. And when the music is over I sleep and dream she still lives.

When I wake up I walk naked through the rooms and when I have searched every one in vain I make coffee. Then I dress myself and realise that I will always be a honey for the jazz bear.

Whether I am alone or with friends or with a lover or an enemy; whether in security or fright or in flight or at home or abroad…

I’m fish food. And the fish are all playing saxophones, guitars…

A Negro double bass player clinks some ice into a glass just before the dawn and endlessly, increasingly weirdly, I start to die.’

Alright God? Now perhaps you’ll f**k off and let us get on with our earthly (or otherwise) sins for a while?

To my mortal friends — Jon Hilltown’s story is coming soon to a book store near you.

Love y’all…

Sugar-coated hegemony

So, what’s the difference between Big Tobacco and Big Government?

In a cynical attempt to lure young smokers and turn them into addicts (thereby enabling them to fulfil their economic roles in the Land of The Free and her dominions) nicotine barons add sugar and sweetners, plum juice, maple syrup and honey to their product. In so doing the smokers’ risk of cancer is increased.

Similarly, imperialist governments feed us with fear, paranoia, bomb-toting bogey-men, religion, etc, so we buy the restrictions of freedom involved in ‘protecting’ us from the ‘enemy’. As a result of their (our) foreign policy, terrorism increases and we move further towards WW3 and ultimate destruction.

So, thinking about a slow death…

So recently I started smoking again and I’m coughing a lot. A long term prognosis?

Cancer!

The Government tells me that I get cancer through smoking and I continue smoking.

Why? Because I’m a good citizen. You know how much tax we pay on a pack of cigarettes in the UK? 80%.

Also, smoking encourages me to be more tolerant. No longer can I point a finger at a drunk or a heroin addict and tell him:

‘What’s the matter with you, man? Aren’t you using your brains? You keep drinking, you keep shooting that shit and it’s ruining your health, your family, your business…’

He’s got a lot of brains. That has nothing to do with it. He’s going to keep drinking or cranking up and I’m going to keep smoking.

As of July 1st smoking will be outlawed in all enclosed public areas and work spaces in England. They already did it in Scotland and Ireland.

People have been talking about the economic consequences: you know, all that lost tax revenue if people stop smoking? That’s not going to happen and the Government knows it.

I’ve been thinking more about what the tobacco companies are going to do. Well, they’re not going to stop selling cigarettes, are they?

I can’t knock them for that, because everything is profit-motivated and a lot of people depend on the tobacco industry for their livelihoods. So what will they do?

Well it won’t be down to them, it’ll be the responsibility of the spin-merchants, the PR people and the advertising agencies, won’t it?

One way out would be to make it cool to have cancer, turn cancer into something desirable, make cancer a status symbol in the community.

They could start with covert, soft-sell advertisements in movies and soap operas, guys talking in two-minute spots, you know:

‘Say, Mike, haven’t seen you in a couple of years. You really look great.’

‘Why shouldn’t I? I’ve got cancer!’

‘Are you kidding me, Mike? Well, that’s terrible.’

‘Terrible the way you see it, not the way I see it. I was making about £15,000 a year as a male nurse. Now since I got cancer, with consolidated benefits and an early pension… I mean, you never see any schlub with cancer, do you? Who has it? Doctors, lawyers, judges, actors, rock stars… What am I, crazy? Are you? No, my friend, it’s… the rich people. They’re keeping it away from us, man, with all those charity drives they have…’

‘Mmm, and it’s really good for you?’

‘Certainly is.’

‘Well, that’s fantastic. How do you get it?’

‘Marlboro lights!’

Run it…

Girl Alarm

I know the girl in the bar by sight. Our eyes meet and I nod. Her phone rings. An odd ring-tone. Sounds like a klaxon. A car alarm. A smoke alarm. A personality alarm.

I sense that her life is on fire or overheating or being tampered with in some way. So we arrange to meet after the show.

There’s a club in the city called the Candy Box. It’s a place for people who work in the leisure industry. You know, waitresses, bartenders, casino monkeys…

Anyway, I meet her there. The bar is tended by a typist and an insurance salesman. While I wait for the drinks I could dictate War and peace and earn a four year no claims bonus.

Eventually we’re equipped. So we head for an intimate table in a dark booth and start up a little conversation.

‘My father is dying of cancer,’ she tells me, ‘I’m grieving already.’

‘Why?’ I ask insensitively.

‘I’ll tell you why.’ she says.

Then she tells me:

‘With cancer you never stop grieving. Some people say you grieve twice but I don’t think that’s the half of it. I don’t think you ever stop… just go on and on and on… grieving, you know? I’d striven for so long to be like him. Time was what I struggled against. I fought for time. Then I had it. The problem then was that I didn’t have the energy, the passion.’

‘Ah, the passion,’ I counter, meaningfully.

‘The solution is a sure one,’ I continue, ‘but the side consequences might be scary…’

‘Hey, talk to the hand, motherf**ker. If you got it I can carry it. You know what I’ve been through already?’ she says.

So we go back to my house, smoke some weed, snort a couple of Gs of best toot and drink the largest part of a bottle of whiskey (it’s Irish, right. So don’t be a kibitzer and correct the spelling).

Turns out her name’s Penny.

In the morning I tell her:

‘We should have a baby, Penny. We should have a little boy and call him Carlos, after my father. He died of cancer, you know… and with cancer you always grieve twice.’  

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