Saturday, December 4, 2021

We smile bug we also kill. CAMBODIA'S GENOCIDAL BUDDHK

 Wow just spotted it's 30 years since the signing of the Paris peace accords that slowly brought an authoritarian peace to Cambodia and set me on the road back to Phnom Penh. I had bribed and hustled my way there in 90. But Saddam Hussein ruined my gig by crossing the Kuwaiti border as i crossed the Vietnamese Csmbodia one. With the arrival of the UN mission, Western embassies, NGOs dreamers schemers writers grifters adventurer-seekers war junkies and n out n out lunatics this once isolated capitsl became a wild east goldrush town. You could hop a UN helicopter to conflict zones and be back the next day eating fine food and telling tall tales with some of the most marvelous people I had the pleasure to meet. It was a toxic mix of beauty, genocidal trauma, deadly politics and fascinating characters like King Sihanouk. Every day was a Graham Greene novel. The place fucked your head in every possible way. The dwindling war could still be deadly as dear friends discovered and poor peasants trudged away from annual dry season offensive with biblical stoicness. War had become part of the national dna. As Sihanouk said " we smile but we also kill." They did both with gusto. On a meta level the opening of the country made the secretive xenophobic Khmer Rouge less tenable. Western, Chinese andThai backing slowly shifted to the Phnom Penh government, many of whom were ex Khmer Rouge. Everybody killed. So you were forced to make pragmtic judgements about who killed less. We had a rave in a graveyard. And there was something kind of sinful about it. But the politics was intoxicating. The work was relentless. As long as you banged out fast and accurate copy- which Sambath Reach RIP  and i did with aplomb aided by Brian Hansford, Carol Livingston and Liz Gilliland - nobody interfered with you. This needless to say led to some outrageous behavior. Life was cheap in all senses. As were drugs, booze and guns. I hadnt any problems  with drugs or booze but i drew the line with guns  i was a rare joutno who never carried anything more dangerous than a wild .mouth, an observent eye and a can  of mace. I turned 30 there and left 4 years later. I recall saying to my dear friend and Master Musician of  Joujouka manager Frank Rynne when the band opened the 200,000 plus Glastonbury festival with an Islamic prayer and some ancient Sufi rock n roll that this was the most fun I had since Csmbodia. It was  a similar heady mix of politics  poetry, rock n roll and angelic propaganda. Pure beauty. But cheers to all my  Cambodian mates. It took real courage to be an independent voice at that time. We were all return ticket revolutionaries. You guys were the real deal. Shame our ranks have been so decimated by untimely death. Seems to go with the territory. But fuck me, it's been hell of a privilege. Dropped in and out of Bosnia and Africa but never really felt the same intoxicating sense of riding raw and raucous history again.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Kevlar For The Soul

For Liz 

Listen up
Just been told.
Am on 
An active waiting list.
A ward.
Congratulations may be in order
Yeah yeah yeah yeah
But really, where else would you find me?
Hardly on the passive one
Cos that doesn’t sound at all like me.
I’m the active dude 
On the active  list
That’s right, that’s cool, that’s just
That’s perfectly suited to me.
A ward
A ward
A ward
Another a ward
In a life that’s been full of on and off
A ward
A ward 
For scallywagging
All across  the universe.

Think we started out with politics
And a little bit of rock n roll
A dalliance with the Saatchi Bros
Before the toxic beauty of Cambodia
Took its inevitable toll
Then somewhere between grim grim Bosnia
And Africa’s riotous machete glint glow
I just fucking ran 
Full out of Kevlar
Kevlar for the soul

Now I need you back Mr Kevlar.
God I need you back real bad
Cos Kevin here has just been told
The a ward they have granted him
Is the very  same one 
They granted
To a wonderful sweet august person
That just happened to be
His dear dear Dad
That’s right you heard me
The same as my dear dear Dad
I don’t think I can overstate this
My dear dear Dad
Dear dear Dad
I miss you
Then I listen out
And catch his voice.
In its loving reassuring tone
And he is saying
Don’t panic, relax now
My sweet sweet son
The Kevlar I can offer you
Is the fact you won’t be alone.
The fact
You won’t be alone

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Grapes Of War

Ended up
On Burgundy.
Been some time
Me and fine wine.
Subtle scents
Of trouble
Of strife
Of M16 whites
And AK reds
All followed by
Sweet sweet adrenalin Sauternes
Laid down long enough
Rapt in conflict
Picking up
Sweet undertones of unadmissable addiction
Premier Cru
Pour it
Pour it
Mister Psychopath Sommelier
Give me the rush.
The wild psychedelia
Of the slightly off target shell.
Raise a glass to the dumb fuckers
For missing.
There’s something missing.
My soul is corked.
“What the fuck do you want me to do about it,” he asks
with that touch of Gallic disdain.
"You chose your cellar.
Now you go die in it.
And don’t come whinging to me
Looking for grapes
And sunshine
At this late stage of the game."

Friday, October 25, 2019

A Cautionary Tale About Life And Death

Getting bored with life is not to be recommended
Cos you just might get a taste of death
And not a heroic jump on the grenade sort of death
A posthumously recognised death
None of that shit.
You just get a good old gut shot
Kind of death.
Cold thirsty moans as you bleed out alone
Kind of death.
That's the exact sort of death you're likely to get
When you deem your lot insufferable.
Aint that the truth.
The whole hard nothing but the truth.

Sunday, November 11, 2018


I'm a Dublin dog 
Barking mad
The sky ripped with Chinese explosion
I'm a cat in Idlib
howling at the bloody moon
crisscrossed by irate fighter
I am a Raqqa rat
Loving it!
Glad we stayed
Unlike Aleppo foxes scuttling away
Some now thinking of return
We hear
But to what?
Fleeing over greedy land, heartless sea, bitter border guard and always the indiscriminate baton
The chorus:
''Fuck off home'
Angry spitting crowds bearing batons.
Cowering, why why enough enough
Others came with care and clothing
To be fair
And we were suspicious
cos they sought nothin in return.
Suspicious of kindness
But not far the noise, the noise
'FUCK OFF HOME' they roared
'Where is my home? Do I have a home?' my friend asked.
Then he went into the trees
Into the silence
Then in the quiet of night
A small window lured him
Into the still grand life of Berlin's fabled Pergamon
There inside:
Ancient Aleppo
Before the dust
In all its quirky courtyard beauty
before the mosaic of madness
My ancient friend
Here you are now .
Here we are now.
Both you and I together at last
at this forbidden time
This city that knows the destruction of ours.
I lie down and weep.
Amongst our pristine beauty
My roars, my tears, my howls, my art, my city, my country!
Roar as alarms shriek across Berlin city
And here some will say no gratitude
Other will pray for salvation.
Pray for salvation.

Saturday, April 21, 2018


Excuse, this is like my notebook.
And by sticking it up - not that anyone is realistically going to read it - it just ups the ante on me to go and continue to work on it.
It's a perfect subject for a poem.
And it's twice now the wonderful John Cummins has said I should be poeming this story and he's right.
So here's the raw byproduct of a couple of hours work.
Gonna have to do some cutting.
Get all the gear to the correct strength.
Get the dates right.
And remember the murky detail of that civil war in England.
Where the miners were sacrificed for the chavs.
And the neo-liberal fascist fucks could not even get the trains to run on time.
And the IRA - the self appointed leaders, the bullying scum and the flip side to the Maggie coin - only had to get lucky once.
Thanks motherfuckers you really added to the experience.

 Down in the Picadilly Theatre At Midnight
(Getting beaten up by Hell's Angels at a John Cooper Clarke Concert)

I went to a John Cooper Clarke gig
In fact I went to John Cooper Clarke gigs
So many that I am writing this in a Salford accent
Not that you know cos I am writing
Not talking
Which is probably just as well
Cos my Salford accent is pretty crap.
I can do the speed though.
Was doing speed that night.
Smoking dope 
And laughing
Lots of laughing
For fuck's sake it was a John Cooper Clarke gig.
Though the laughter wasn't pristine
It wasn't pure Burmese border laughter.
Nah it was cut.
Feuding Afghani jihadis
Pakistani secret service
And CIA fucking over DEA 
You get my drift.
John Cooper Clarke was a young whipper snapper at the time.
Hanging out with Nico.
Shooting flies
With that Teutonic Chanteuse
Missing the Andies
Oh we all miss Andy
Ask John and Lou
Oh those halycon days
Shooting flies
With blood filled syringes.
Fuck you were sharp
John Cooper Clarke
But not razer
Cos you were cut
Animated by youth
but you were cut
You know it
I know it.
We know what it's like to be cut.
Cut the tall poppies.
Machete genocide
Hand to hand
Too chicken to get out of town
The fucking train is fucking late
You fucking wait
You fucking wait
First thing you learn is always
gonna be
Cold Turkey
Has the run.
Enter the fucking dragon
Exist Johnny Cooper Clarke.
One two three
Out of goof and into action
Just like that
Just like Tommy Cooper
And those clubs you played
Taking punk way north
Way up there
In mother in law land
Where civil war
Was slaughtering
Northern Soul
Then there was ride on
Down Brighton
With the mods 
And the rockers
Moped bennies
And the mods
All very dandy
All very British
All very rail
God Bless
Tick tock
Tick tock
Humpty Tory Dumpty
That Provo shock
Rattling the whole cabinet
Do you remember that John Cooper Clarke
Or were you hiding in heroin and light bulb jokes.
Whatever about the light bulb jokes
A man needed heroin.
(In which we used to smuggle our contraceptives. Or so you said. 
I'm showing my age 
John Cooper Clarke
But you went and hid
Needle thin
As you kneedled them
But the overtime
the overtime
making fist over barrel
cracking northern head on you
Run JCC run
Here those fucking coppers come.
"Seen the Belgrano?
Coming this way or that."
And now the fucking Sweeney are kicking down your flat.
There's no such thing as society
I am an anti Christ 
I am an anarchist.
You John 
You were pulling it off on pro-auto pilot
When I got the helicopters
The Saigon spins
Midnight at the circus
West end theatre too.
Who the fuck were we fooling?
I was going in
Going down
May day may day
Going in hard.
Crash landed in tiled bathroom cool.
Rotors slow slow slowed
Picking up the pieces.
We open the door.
It's a god damn Jam song.
I'm down in the theatre at midnight.
At a John Cooper Clarke gig.
Help me John help me
There's fucking guys with fucking murder in their eyes.
You know the type
Get stabbed waiting for a kebab.
And the IRA are trying to take out the government
And the police are at war
with the poor fuckers up North.
And I'm being kicked to pieces.
By biker dudes
In their 40s
Mellowing with age.
What were these cunts like when they were 20.
And with impecable timing the Shah had fallen.
The fucking Brits and the fuckings yanks could not leave Mossdeq alone.
And there comes the payback
S M A C K.

Unconscious in the jacks.
And you John?