Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Live and Dangerous

I had a very pleasant time at my brother's house for Christmas. It was nice to see my nieces and nephews excited by the festivities. I took some care in selecting presents for them. Unfortunately, they didn't seem that impressed. So I expect I failed in that endeavour. No doubt I'm useless at selecting presents. Ho Hum. But they were very happy about Christmas anyway, and their much better presents from their parents.

I gave my brother - a fan of old school heavy rock - 'Live and Dangerous', Thin Lizzy's live double album from 1972, generally regarded as their finest moment. Well, when I say double album, I bought it from iTunes so it's not an album at all, just computer files that you put on a disc, which is not the same at all. You know, the world really was better when you had giant album covers, with pictures and lyrics and stuff.

My brother gave me a book of Pliny's letters, and this was something I really wanted, and is one of favourite presents ever. Pliny the Younger wrote a first-hand account of the eruption of Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeii in 79AD, and his letters are full of many interesting pieces about life in Rome.

A few weeks ago I took part in a film about Les Carter, a birthday present from his partner Crissi. My part involved being filmed in the rain in front of the Brixton Academy, talking about Les. That went quite well. Well, I hope it did, I haven't actually seen the film. But I was pleased to make a contribution anyway.

I wonder why the Brixton Academy, which is a music venue, chose that name? Academy really means an institute of learning. Every academy takes its name, ultimately, from the school of philosophy founded by Plato around 385 BC at Akademia, close to Athens in Greece.

Plato was a pupil of Socrates. Something that always surprises me is the way that Socrates and other philosophers managed to be so civilised in the midst of continual strife. For instance, Socrates would be wandering around Athens, teaching philosophy, and then suddenly the order would come for everyone to turn up next day with their weapons, and three days rations, because they had to go to war. So Socrates would march off to war, take part in some bloody battle, march back to Athens, and then get on with teaching philosophy. That happened to him on various occasions. Amazing really. I'd have liked to learn philosophy from Socrates, but I'd have been useless at marching off to war.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Kalix. Werwölfin von London

Lonely Werewolf Girl will be published in Germany in June 2009, by Fischer. Fischer is a big publisher, I'm looking forward to their edition coming out. Here it is at the publisher's website and at The title in German will be Kalix. Werwölfin von London. Which, you will notice, contains an umlaut. Umlauts are always cool. It's a shame that in English, there is never the opportunity to put two little dots over a letter.

Under different publishers, The Good Fairies of New York has been continually in print in Germany since it first came out, many years ago. And all eight Thraxas books were published in German too. So I have to say I'm all in favour of the German reading public at this moment.

London has been dreadfully cold. There's nothing else to do except lie in a nice hot bath reading Steel Fist Riku and whatever other manga comes to hand. Leaving the house will soon be impossible apart from the occasional dash to the shops to buy hobnobs. If the temperature drops any further this may no longer be possible, and I'll need people to send me supplies on a sled pulled by huskies, or maybe an emergency airlift.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

More of My Backlist Unleashed on the World

The Millar backlist assault on the world continues. I just received the manuscript for the re-issue of Lux the Poet, which will be reprinted some time next year. And only yesterday the postman brought me a box of copies of Milk, Sulphate and Alby Starvation from the American publisher Soft Skull. This seems to be available on already, although it hasn't reached yet.

Hmm. Can anyone actually prove I wrote all these books? I could deny it.

A brief story about when I was writing Lux the Poet: I was living in a small council flat in Brixton. I shared the flat with a primary school teacher, who was rarely there, and a young man who was a serious alcoholic, as was his boyfriend. They were continually drunk, probably too drunk to have sex, but they were both fond of spanking. Being so drunk, they weren't concerned about privacy, and used to perform, or attempt to perform, spanking sessions in the living room. Meanwhile I stayed in my own room, writing Lux the Poet on an old word-processor. So I could hear the spanking, which would have been strange enough anyway, but because of their extreme drunkenness and lack of co-ordination, it happened at an unbelievably slow rate. I'd write one sentence of Lux, and hear a vague slapping noise. And then I'd write a bit more, and after a few more sentences, there be another spanking noise, followed by some loud struggling as they fell off the couch, and scrambled around for their cans of special brew. And then, some time later, there's be another vague slapping sound. Really, you wouldn't believe that any spanking could possibly be carried on in such a slow and disorganised fashion. Sometimes he'd actually miss the target, which you'd think would be practically impossible. Hours later I'd find them collapsed, semi-naked and unconscious on the living room floor. Both of them by this time quite emaciated young men, from alcohol abuse. I was pleased when I moved out of that flat.

If you're looking for some relaxing viewing - like for instance if you've just taken a rhubarb crumble out of the oven and you're planning it eat it while watching TV - then I recommend not watching 'Happiness', Todd Solondz's grim black comedy from 1999. I found myself doing this a few nights ago, and it was definitely a poor choice. I've rarely seen so much uncomfortable heavy breathing and squirming onscreen, or such a cast of unlikeable characters. But it's a good film too, so I didn't want to stop watching it. It kind of spoiled my rhubarb crumble relaxation though. I hereby resolve never to watch anything serious ever again, and stick to watching Tokyo Mew Mew on Pop TV. Except now it's changed channels to Popgirl TV and I don't have that channel. Damn these schedulers. Fine I'll watch it on youtube instead.