Is it OK to say ‘mixed-race’? No. But…

Meghan Markle, AKA Duchess of Sussex | Photo: Shutterstock

Is it OK to say ‘mixed race’? No – because there are no human ‘races’. But…

Even the Guardian (centre-left, the UK’s only national daily newspaper not owned by billionaire twats) uses it to describe, for instance, Meghan Markle. (The usually brilliant Guardian style guide is silent on the subject.)

I objected to the use of the phrase on a local Facebook page and got a hostile response. People said, ‘I’m mixed race – that’s what I call myself’.

‘Mixed heritage’ (or ‘mixed ethnicity’) is better. More syllables, admittedly, but meaningful. (‘Dual heritage‘ is as pointlessly limiting as the horrible phrase, ‘half-caste’ – which leads into a hell-hole of racist numerical classifications such as ‘quadroon’.)

Why do skin colour and ethnic origin need describing? Mostly they don’t, but skin colour can be used to describe an unknown person. In the local FB page incident a man harassing women in a park was described as ‘mixed-race’.

Similarly, UK police use identification codes to describe suspects to colleagues, eg IC4: [South] Asian. (Interestingly, there’s no IC code for people whose skin colour indicates mixed heritage.)

So there may be a perceived need to describe skin colour and ethnic origin, in which case the words used matter.

‘Mixed race’ implies there are human races – but only science-denying racists believe that. They say there are different races, some of which are intrinsically superior to others. They’re wrong.

Pseudo-scientific racists, from ‘Enlightenment’ philosophers (eg Kant and Locke) onwards, tried to justify colonialism and racism by claiming Europeans are inherently more intelligent than other ‘races’. They aren’t.

German philosopher and racist twat Immanuel Kant | Image: Hulton Archive / Getty Images

Taxonomically, it’s generally agreed that all modern humans are Homo sapiens sapiens, the only surviving subspecies of the species Homo sapiens (the only surviving species of the genus Homo).

Race is a slippery word, but in biology, it’s an informal rank below the level of subspecies, the members of which are significantly distinct from other members of the subspecies.

Genetic research has confirmed the obvious: the differences that evolved between different human populations are not significantly genetically distinct. The different populations aren’t races in any scientifically meaningful sense.

Some say ‘race’ is a social construct that doesn’t have to be scientifically meaningful – it’s just a way of describing the different human populations. Such slippery post-modern sophistry is used by racists to blur the issue.

Single-gene disorders associated with particular populations are the only significant difference. For instance, cystic fibrosis is most common among people of north European heritage.

Otherwise the differences, albeit visually obvious, are superficial.

There are no different human races, just human populations with differences which, apart from single-gene disorders, are superficial – and which are becoming increasingly mixed!

Before pseudo-scientific racism was rumbled, racists sneered about the danger of ‘miscegenation‘. There’s still cultural pressure not to ‘marry out‘. But – some dodgy lyrics aside – Blue Mink were right: what we need is a great big melting pot.

In the meantime, words matter.

Perhaps due to carelessness or laziness, the word ‘race’ is frequently used – misused – in non-racist media, by both black and white writers and speakers.

Also, strictly speaking, there’s no such thing as ‘the human race‘. It’s an inclusive and relatively harmless phrase (and ‘the human subspecies‘ isn’t catchy) but ‘humanity‘ is better.

There is such a thing – albeit misnamed – as racism. Until racism ends, that word must continue to be used.

But there’s no reason to say ‘mixed-race‘. It’s loaded with colonial notions of white superiority. It should be left in the shameful past where it belongs.

Mixed heritage‘ celebrates our differences and embraces the mixing of them.

But some people say, ‘I’m mixed race – that’s how I describe myself. Don’t tell me what to say!’

It must be difficult enough being brown-skinned in a white world – facing microracism (‘Where are you from?’) and conscious and unconscious personal and institutional bias – without having a white saviour tell you how you should or shouldn’t describe yourself.

Whitesplaining word-nerd, antiracist virtue signaller – who do I think I am? It’s like a white person telling African Americans not to use the N-word: ‘I say, you rapper chappies – you really shouldn’t use that bad word.’

Except it’s not like that. When a mixed-heritage person uses the phrase ‘mixed-race’ to describe themselves, they’re not re-appropriating the word ‘race‘ in a playfully political way.

They’re giving white people permission to use that phrase – and they’re inadvertently agreeing with zealous racists, the only people who think there actually are different races.

Maybe mixed-heritage people call themselves ‘mixed-race’, thinking, ‘So what? Who cares? It’s just what people say. And it’s only two syllables.’ (Maybe it’s to wind up mitherers like me. If so, Damn – you got me.)

I just hope it’s not an example of that depressing phenomenon, internalised racism.

Forward to the Past – hunting and gathering as a leisure activity

There’s a large park near us with deer in it. I’m an anti-hunting vegetarian, but whilst walking there recently, I felt an atavistic urge to hunt the deer!

Kill Bambi! | Photo: Christopher Day

Here in the UK, we churlish peasants hate the landed aristocracy (and the nouveaux super-rich), not least for their hobbies of huntin’, shootin’ an’ fishin’. (The dropped end-consonant is an aristo affectation.)

However, putting aside class hatred, maybe that’s what we’d all do if we had their time and money (although perhaps not in pursuit of the inedible fox, UK aristos’ favourite quarry). Maybe it’s intrinsically enjoyable. Maybe it goes back to hunting and gathering.

Putting aside – also – our modern vegetarian sensibilities, maybe hunting and gathering was sociable and enjoyable. Then we invented farming, which was antisocial and boring. (Perhaps nomadic herding is an acceptable intermediate lifestyle.)

After the Norman invasion of England in 1066, the victors stole all the land. They hunted in their forests. No one else could. (Perhaps poaching was semi-tolerated as a safety valve. Huntin’ an’ poachin’!)

So in the future (having somehow survived the climate crisis), with aristos and the super-rich all exiled to the moon (for receiving stolen land and criminal damage to the environment), and with reformed money, a state income, most work automated, food produced hydroponically and the land commonised and rewilded, we can all enjoy some occasional recreational huntin’ an’ gatherin’.

Then, at the end of the day, it’s back to the tribal eco-cave for an evening of eating, drinking, story-telling and singing around the fire. (Finally, drunk as skunks, it’s back by autodrone to our ecopods.)

We’re all normal and we want our freedom

‘Shocking’ – film still from Marat/Sade, 1967 | United Artists

Back in the 60s I vaguely wondered, through the stoned haze, how come that unusual line, ‘We’re all normal and we want our freedom‘, was in songs on two albums by different artists?

The songs were Red Telephone on Forever Changes (1967) by Love and We Are Normal on The Doughnut in Granny’s Greenhouse (1968) by the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band.

Decades later, I finally looked it up: it’s from Marat/Sade, the famous 1963 play by Peter Weiss. The full title is The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade.

Set in 1808 in the Parisian asylum in which the Marquis de Sade was incarcerated in real life, the play features de Sade staging a (fictional) play-within-a-play about the (real-life) murder of Jean-Paul Marat, using his fellow inmates as actors. In Act 1, Scene 6, the inmates chant, ‘We’re all normal and we want our freedom‘.

The play, said to draw on the ideas of Bertold Brecht and Antonin Artaud, was directed for theatre and film by theatre god Peter Brook. His award-winning production reportedly shocked audiences. Love’s Arthur Lee and the Bonzo’s Viv Stanshall must have seen it and borrowed that line.

In 1967 the film was showing in the USA; there was also a much-praised Broadway production. In Los Angeles, Lee probably saw the film and borrowed the Marat/Sade line for The Red Telephone.

(He apparently also borrowed from the stomping chant on Napolean XIV‘s They’re Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!, released in 1966. Marat/Sade and the Napolean XIV song both address incarceration due to mental illness. Coincidentally, Napolean was in power in 1808.)

The Bonzo’s We Are Normal was written by Stanshall and fellow Bonzo Neil Innes. Innes has said he thought they got the line from Marat/Sade – the theatre and film versions were on in London – but apparently Stanshall has said he got it from Love. Perhaps it was both.

During the recording of Doughnut, Dadaist Stanshall, wearing a rabbit’s head and underpants, interviewed members of the public in a nearby London street. On We Are Normal, an interviewee is heard saying, ‘He’s got a head on him like a rabbit.’

The Bonzo’s spooky, extraordinary song is part sound experiment with cut-up vox pop and Miles-like trumpet, and part cod heavy rock. The only lyric is a close paraphrase of the Marat/Sade line, sung repeatedly and assertively in the rock section:

    We are normal and we want our freedom

Stanshall slips in a cracking rhyme: ‘We are normal and we dig Bert Weedon‘. (He sabotages his joke by adding a sarcastic laugh, as if to say that although he couldn’t resist it, such humour was out of place in a serious experimental artwork.)

Love’s wistful, melancholic The Red Telephone segues near the end into an ominous Napolean-XIV-like marching chant:

  • They’re locking them up today
  • They’re throwing away the key
  • I wonder who it’ll be tomorrow, you or me?

The song then ends with a plaintive spoken rendition of that Marat/Sade line:

    We’re all normal and we want our freedom
‘Joke’ explanation (I know): Lee messes up the imagined re-enactment of Stanshall’s gag: “A punk stopped me on the street. He said, ‘You got a light, Mac?’ I said, ‘No – but I’ve got a dark brown overcoat.’
(From Big Shot, on the Bonzos’ 1967 debut album, Gorilla.)
(Not to be confused with Hev Yew Gotta Loight, Boy? by The Singing Postman.)

I’m a woke dirty old man

Image: American Dad / Fox

As an ‘old’ man (over 70), am I a dirty old man? Yes, of course. Not by being a pervert or flasher, but by finding young women attractive. I love my wife and wouldn’t cheat – but I look at young women lustfully.

Women of any age can be attractive – but young women are special. That’s the ‘dirty old man’ bit.

Lust is primal. Age tempers it – it becomes less visceral and more cerebral (and what chance of reciprocation would an old man have anyway?) but it remains present and incorrect.

So what? The thing is, in the wake of the 2021 UK murder of Sarah Everard and the subsequent Reclaim These Streets movement, men of good will – even old men – must adjust our attitude towards women.

The memorable phrase, ‘All men are rapists‘ (said by a character in the novel The Women’s Room by radical feminist Marilyn French) is a good starting point. If it’s true, what should we modern, civilised men do with that evolved predatory tendency?

First we should acknowledge it. After all we’re animals with monsters from the id. Then we should chose to live above it.

Most men are decent and don’t rape, but the tidal wave of testimony that followed Sarah’s death shows that many men and boys do rape and assault – and get away with it.

Those who wish to reject that brutality can acknowledge the lusftful impulse, admire the beauty, consciously reject any predatory urge and be prepared to protect women and girls.

So If I’m walking in the park, being alive and heterosexual I’ll discreetly admire young women jogging in skin-tight leggings. (Discreetly, because staring is intrusive. Marilyn French’s character goes on to say, ‘They rape us with their eyes’.)

But I’ll also be on the lookout for any predatory behaviour and be ready to intervene. Arthritis permitting. I’m a woke dirty old man.

Universal Basic Income is too basic

The Money Tree | Image: Shutterstock

UBI, Universal Basic Income, is wrong because it’s basic. The ‘B’ should stand for ‘Big’, not ‘Basic’.

UBI is basic because it’d be tax-funded. But a Universal Big Income big enough to replace wages could be funded by social credit.

The pandemic has shown there’s a money tree and it’s not magic. Historically, governments have allowed banks to issue almost all money – as debt. The consequent debt economy, with growth needed to service debt, is inherently destructive of our life-support environment. It also obliges governments to be funded by tax – and by borrowing!

If governments take back their right and responsibility to issue money, they can issue it as social credit. This would fund social spending – healthcare, education and infrastructure – and could also fund a universal big income.

People would then be free to work as much or as little as they want. People might choose to work – for more money, for the pleasure of it, or as a volunteer.

With a generous state income funded by social credit, increasing automation would mean increasing leisure, as it always should have.

Alice and Pooh – first date

(In which, dear Reader, nothing much can happen. Although Alice is now post-pubertal, Pooh still has no genitals. The animated porn version is just a passing thought in my dirty mind.)

Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Don Juan, the other Don Juan, Zorba the Greek, Winnie the Pooh, Madame Blavatsky and Alice from Wonderland had been invited.

An apology was received from Madame Blavatsky. She said she wasn’t currently on a compatible plane. (Blavatsky had successfully claimed free-spirit autonomy under the 23rd Ammendment to the Multiversal Constitution.)

Alice had been the first to arrive. She was slumped in an armchair, staring at the rococo ceiling.

There was a muted bang, and Winnie-the-Pooh appeared.

‘What the fuck?’ said Pooh.

Alice recognized Pooh from the shared matrix.

‘Oi, potty-mouth Pooh!’ said Alice. ‘Not toilet-trained then, teddy bear? It’s a fantasy dinner party.’

Winnie scanned the matrix. ‘Right. What the fuck?’

Alice asked, ‘You not done this before?’ Pooh said, ‘No. I don’t think so.’

Alice said, ‘Well, you’ll get used to it. Enjoy it while it lasts.’

Pooh strode around the large enclosed space. A sofa appeared. Pooh flung himself on it. ‘Any honey? Honey?’

‘Fuck you, Bear. That’s your real name isn’t it? Edward fucking Bear.’

‘Jesus, give me a break, I just got here,’ said Pooh.

‘Are you OK?’ he asked.

‘I’m just pissed off being … created like this. For this,’ said Alice. ‘Don’t worry – I’ll be fine.’

Pooh looked at her. ‘Alice.’


‘You’re a funky chick, Alice. How old are you?’

‘Eww. I’m legally a child. And you’re a bear for fuck’s sake! A bear from a children’s story.’

‘Been updated. Like you, apparently, Little Miss Muffett. And, well, nobody’s perfect. That’s a witty quote, by the way, from, er, a movie …’

‘… Some Like It Hot. Very good. But tell me, Winnie, can you hold an actual conversation?’

‘Well, we’ll see, won’t we?

Pooh checked his matrix profile. ‘I seem to be spliced with Ted. From the movie. Makes me more interesting, I suppose.’

‘More disgusting, more like,’ said Alice. ‘Should be called Ted X. Hah! You could give us a bullshit talk. About bongs’

Pooh laughed. ‘That’s quite good,’ he said.

‘Mind you,’ Alice said, ‘I was supposed to be seven in the book. I’m a young adult now. Standard protocol, apparently. Periods and everything.’

‘OK. Right,’ said Pooh. ‘So you’re not really the Alice in Alice in Wonderland, then?’

‘More grown up, I suppose,’ said Alice. ‘Anyway, I think I was more like a ten-year-old in the books.’

‘Also,’ said Alice, ‘I seem to have been spiced up with someone called Tracy Beaker. And a dash of Lolita. Hmm.’

‘Let’s hope our host didn’t invite Humbert, then,’ said Pooh.

‘Actually,’ said Alice, ‘all men – and that includes whatever you are – are Humberts.’

‘Probably true,’ said Pooh. ‘What can you do?’

‘Keep it in your trousers, maybe?’ said Alice.

‘Yeah, well,’ said Pooh. ‘I don’t seem to have any. Or anything to keep in them, for that matter.’

‘What about the swearing?’ asked Pooh.

‘I think it’s just a filter,’ said Alice.

‘Right,’ said Pooh. ‘So. Who else is coming?’

‘Let’s see,’ said Alice. ‘OK. Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Don Juan from Fidelio, Zorba the Greek, Madame Blavatsky and the other Don Juan – the Castenada one.’

‘Christ Almighty!’ said Pooh. ‘What half-baked stoned numpty would come up with that?’

‘That would be our host. Better watch your manners if you want to make it to the drunken after-dinner conversation.’

‘Yes. Right,’ said Pooh. ‘But these things must cost a fortune. You’d think they’d be more … discerning.’

‘Apparently,’ said Alice, ‘our host won it in a competition. On the back of a Mr Kipling cannabis cake.’

‘Hah,’ said Pooh, ‘that explains it.’

‘I see Blavatsky’s not coming,’ said Pooh. ‘That’s something.’

He sniggered. ‘I suppose there’ll be raw fish for the seagul. Or chips. What about you? Magic mushrooms?’

‘That wasn’t … It was … Oh, never mind,’ said Alice.

‘Talking about real names,’ said Pooh, ‘what about yours? Alice Liddell, isn’t it?’

Alice sighed. ‘I’m sure we’ll get to that. Here comes the table.’

The table appeared, with eight settings. ‘Eight,’ said Pooh. ‘In case Blavatsky changes her mind, I suppose.’

They sat at one end of the table. ‘It could be worse,’ said Alice. ‘I was at one where they invited God.’

‘God!’ said Pooh. ‘What happened?’

‘Well, God couldn’t come, of course. He sent Jesus instead.’

‘Jesus!’ said Pooh. ‘I bet he was a laugh.’

‘He was alright, actually,’ said Alice. ‘Didn’t drink much. But it got too … intense.’

‘I’ve got some spiritual chops myself, you know,’ said Pooh, airily. ‘You might have heard of The Tao of Pooh.’

‘You mean that twee, dumbed-down cash-in?’ said Alice.

‘Ooh, get you,’ said Pooh. ‘Quite the critic.’

‘I’m a well educated young lady, thank you,’ said Alice.

‘Ah yes,’ said Pooh. ‘That clever Mr Dodgson took a close interest in your, ah, education, didn’t he?’

‘That wasn’t me. That was Alice Liddell,’ said Alice.

‘Hmm,’ said Pooh. ‘Anyway, The Tao of Pooh was on the New York Times bestseller list for 49 weeks – and it’s required reading in college courses.’

‘You just read that in Wikipedia on the matrix,’ said Alice.

‘Yes. True. It also says I, ah, personify the principles of wu wei, the Taoist concept of “effortless doing”,’ said Pooh.

‘Woo woo, more like,’ said Alice.

‘Rude,’ said Pooh.

‘Anyway,’ said Alice, ‘I’ve got chops too. I said things with deeper meaning, like, “It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then”.’

‘Right,’ said Pooh, ‘whatever.’

‘I could do with a drink,’ he said. ‘Or a bong. Or both.’

A loaded bong and a tray of drinks appeared.

Pooh opened a can of beer, flicked on the gas lighter, and took a long, bubbling hit on the bong.

Alice poured herself a glass of cider. ‘You’re missing Piglet, aren’t you,’ she said.

‘Piglet,’ said Pooh. He sniffed. ‘The little bastard. Hope he’s OK.’

‘Don’t get all maudlin on me,’ said Alice.

‘We’re very close,’ said Pooh. ‘Were. In the forest.’

‘”Forest”?’ said Alice. ‘”Wood”, you mean.’

‘We called it the forest,’ said Pooh. ‘You wouldn’t understand. Anyway, it’s Ashdown Forest in the real world.’

‘Which one?’ asked Alice.

‘Well, that one. Obviously,’ said Pooh. ‘But I take your point.’

They drank in silence for a moment.

Pooh had a Thought. ‘Has any one ever escaped from one of these things?’ he asked Alice.

‘Like in a violent-scifi-action-movie kind of way, for instance?’ he added, hopefully.

Alice sighed. ‘You’re sighing again,’ said Pooh. ‘I’ll take that as a No.’

‘For now,’ he said. ‘Anyway. Where are the rest of them?’

Alice studied the matrix. ‘Seems there’s a power outage in the Akashic Dimension. It’s holding things up.’

‘Just us two for now, then,’ said Pooh. ‘I quite like you, actually. You could be my new Piglet.’

‘Jesus,’ said Alice, ‘you’ve moved on pretty quick from the old one. Anyway, I had enough of pigs with that bloody baby.’

‘”Speak harshly to your little boy, and beat him when he sneezes. He only does it to annoy, because he knows it teases.” One of my favourite rhymes,’ said Pooh.

‘You like my adventures, then?’ asked Alice.

‘I do,’ said Pooh. They drank in silence for another moment.

‘The thing is …’ said Alice, at the same as Pooh said. “So actually …”

They laughed. ‘Awkward first date moment,’ said Pooh.

‘It’s not a bloody date,’ said Alice. ‘Fuck’s sake.’

‘Never say never,’ said Pooh.

‘That’s very Tao,’ said Alice.

‘Ha!’ said Pooh. ‘So, you first.’

‘Oh yes,’ said Alice. ‘The thing is, I’m a bit of a loner. You had all your friends in the … fucking forest. I was on my own in Wonderland.’

‘OK,’ said Pooh.

‘I mean I met people and … things,’ said Alice, ‘but I had no company, as such.’

‘OK,’ said Pooh.

‘I didn’t need anybody,’ said Alice. I was self-contained. Am self-contained.’

‘OK,’ said Pooh.

‘I mean I missed my sister and my cat. A bit. From my ‘real’ life. But I was basically a loner, a strong character.

‘OK,’ said Pooh. ‘What about Lolita and Tracy Beaker?’

‘They’re, like, add-ons,’ said Alice. ‘Anyway, sorry, but I’m not going to be your new Piglet. Or your anything.’

‘OK,’ said Pooh.

‘Jesus!’ said Alice. ‘Have you just done a crash course in counselling, or what?’

‘Well, yes, actually,’ said Pooh. ‘Co-counselling. It’s all about listening, you know. You’re not supposed to say, ‘OK’, apparently, but it’s kind of hard not to. Please continue.’

‘No, that was it. What were you going to say?’

‘Oh yes,’ said Pooh, ‘er …’

‘Perhaps that you’ve lost your short-term memory thanks to the weed?’ said Alice.

‘Well, yes. But no, that wasn’t it,’ said Pooh.

‘Ah yes,’ said Pooh, ‘What it was is, I’ve never had a, er, relationship with anyone. Christopher Robin and Piglet, they were platonic. Despite the rumours.’

‘OK,’ said Alice.

‘Now you’re doing it! It’s quite annoying, isn’t it,’ said Pooh.

‘So, anyway,’ said Pooh, ‘when we get to the awkward first kiss, it might be extra awkward, you know?’

‘Jesus, Bear. Fuck off,’ said Alice. ‘You weren’t listening at all.’

No, I was,’ said Pooh. ‘That’s what I was thinking before you said all that. You asked me.’

‘Oh yeh,’ said Alice. ‘True.’

‘I mean, I totally respect your … whatever,’ said Pooh. ‘I was just saying.’

‘Well don’t,’ said Alice.

They drank in silence again. Pooh took another hit on the bong.

‘It’s not that …’ said Alice, at the same as Pooh said. “I mean I …”

‘Fuck’s sake,’ said Alice. They laughed.

To be continued …?

As any fule kno…

We think we’re nice, interesting people. But we might not be. But how would we know? Who would convincingly tell us? No one – not even our significant other, if we’re lucky enough to have one – really knows us well enough or cares about us enough to do that. The Sage said, Know yourself. I used to think it’s better to be known. But maybe the Sage had a point. The problem is that once you discover what a piece of shit you are, where do you go with that? To a schmychotherapist? Is it possible just to stop thinking that you’re really great person? To be modest about yourself? Tone down your amusing charisma? Assume the cloak of humility? Worth a try.

Tell the truth then, Soothfairy

…and shame the devil.

That’s the brave challenge I imagine you issuing, dear Reader, given the pretentious name of this blog. But do you really want me to take on the devil? Have you read some CS Lewis or something?

Is telling the truth necessary for good writing, writing that people like reading? No, obviously not. Mainly because we’re not capable of it.

The truth would only be found in the Akashic Record. Revealed by Mme Blavatsky in the 19th century, and touted by hippies in the last one, Akasha’s a record of everything. Every incident with all its background and circumstances. What was done, said, felt, and thought. All of it, for all time, unchangeable. Expensive to record, archive and maintain? No problem – on Planet Akaksha, there’s an energy tree powered by time-looped anti-entropy perpetual motion. Or whatever. Free energy, anyway – in another dimension, basically: Dimension Akasha.

Here on Planet Earth there’s truth with a small ‘t’. (Actually, the word ‘truth’ only ever has a small ‘t’, except for believers.) For humans, truth is slippery, and – embarassingly for the Crown of Creation – impossible to grasp.

We may not be capable of truth. We might know that, and be up for some postmodern fun. But we know what truth – however amusingly diffracted into multiple realities – sounds like. Ring it!

Say I wanted to write about a difficulty I’m having with a member of my, er, extended family. My wife’s family, really. Her sister.

So I had a legal confrontation with her about their dear departed mother’s will. Their mother was blameless, the will was clear – the house was to be divided between four sisters.

This one was the executor. But she thought she was the executive. She didn’t discuss selling the house in order to share it. She lived in the house. Made no attempt to sort things out.

On behalf of the other three, I teed up the law. Her sisters would take her to court if she didn’t cough up. So she did.

Maybe she thought she was protecting them. Given what two of them did with their money, maybe she was right. She’s rated as a good cook, so she can’t be all bad. And she’s disabled. With polio. She also has a small portfolio of rented properties. You couldn’t make it up.

I made her do the right thing. Which she resents, of course. I put a stop to her arrogant mismanagement of her mother’s will. Unforgiveable.

She and my wife are currently friendly, and she and I tolerate each other. But I think she’s secretly seething and avenging herself by demanding more and more of my wife’s time, especially in the evenings, especially Friday and Saturday evenings.

Going out or not, Saturday evening’s special. Even sitting on the couch watching TV. She’s stealing that from me.

My wife knows I don’t like it. She says her sister’s on her own, and there’s nothing special about Saturday, now all the days are the same in covid lockdown.

My wife doesn’t understand me. Ain’t that the half-truth?

Did you like reading that, dear Reader? If so, I told you the the truth – the writer’s truth. If not (or, worse, it was OK, but – blah blah blah), it’s the Limbo step for me.

A new poem by Hugo Brucciani

[Editor’s note: at this stage of his life, Brucciani, apparently embittered by failure and given to extensive substance abuse, now opens and closes his poems by arguing with an imaginary critic. He also has a product-placement deal with Nando’s.]

Photo: Simon Alvinge / Alamy

lockdown is like the end of the world

by hugo brucciani
april 2020

you say my poems are
the stoned ramblings of a
half-baked moron?
well, fuck you

dear reader, please
add a short
pause after each
think of it as
the rhythm

here in the garden in an
infinity recliner, i wonder
how does it feel to
be a bird? hey, bird
does your tiny mind
bliss out when
you soar?

you soar like
a metaphor on
the wings of
my imagination

your wings are
real enough to
transcend any

it’s hard to
acknowledge feeling in


we have
advanced awareness but
can’t control it

for some, its
shininess is too

they live in
shiny bubbles
pretending to
connect and
hoping it works
to a point at least

(what shiny beast
saunters towards Nando’s
to be born again
as a chicken?)

others connect better yet but
it’s still not enough

think of us as
an evolutionary dead end
nice while it lasts
apart from when it’s not, like

it feels like it’s the end of the world
the end of the road
for us and our one thing after another
farewell cruel world
it’s all your fault

your human nature failed
its epic test
failed to fulfil its

got so far, only
couldn’t connect with
the, you know, thing

couldn’t connect, so
couldn’t relate, so
we’re self-destructing and fuck it
if we’re going down we’re going to
take a lot of other life forms
with us

to whatever is
good try, and
better luck next time

the multiverse will
carry on evolving but not
with us and not with
life as
we know it
Jim (lucky to be
worried about by
Mrs Dale)

so we’ll never know
how the multiverse evolves
we’ll never see
the bigger picture
that’s the worst thing
here in my bubble

still, could be worse
my worst thing
never knowing
could be a third-world problem
the one we made
could be a pile of shit but
it’s not that bad or sad

it’s OK. it’s fine
it’s only love, and
that is all
love of my life
love of it all

fuck some universal purpose
let’s live for the future
the one that’s got people in it
and birds
and bees

fuck the self-destruction
let’s kiss it better
love it better yet
save ourselves
save our souls
are we saved? not yet


a shallow epiphany, you say?
well, fuck you

[Editor’s note: In this poem, Brucciani seems to see humanity as a failed experiment in multiversal connectedness. For an alternative (if equally bleak) view – of life as a crop – see his poem, God the farmer?]

Coronavirus – Soothfairy speaks

Image: Praxis Photography / Getty Images / Flickr RF

This coronavirus – what does it think it is? Coming over to us humans from bats, or pangolins, whatever, killing off our vulnerable old people, making us all stay in, destroying our socio-economic system and that. I mean, what’s it all about? You know? Bollocks!

Mind you, as a global threat it’s shown up market forces and the nation state as inadequate. So, if we end up with voluntary one-world government that can end poverty and war, give us a universal state income, and replace the environment-destroying debt economy with social credit, might not be so bad. Apart from the killing and destruction. Which is bad, obviously. Means and ends and all that.

But this isn’t a case of means and ends, is it. The deaths aren’t a way to get to utopia. The utopian idea comes from the deaths but isn’t caused by them. (The deaths are a way for nature to maintain its inhuman ecosystem. We’ve had plenty of warning.)

So this modern idea of utopia isn’t caused by the sudden mass deaths. It’s caused by the usual complicated pattern of thoughts and events. This virus is probably the catalyst (O-level chemistry, failed). The reaction is taking place. The result won’t be known till the post-virus dust has settled.

So would “they”, the Illuminati or whatever, the union of the super-rich, allow an end to neoliberal global capitalism as we know and hate it?

Not willingly, of course, but they might be forced to acknowledge a tidal turn of events and find another way to keep their loot; or they might try to co-opt New Utopia and bend it to the will of their ruling cabal; or – with a bit of luck – they might retreat in a sulk and rot away behind their security fences.

In the new utopia, in 50 years’ time, United Earth, having repaired the damage done by their greed, will round up the remaining cohort along with their warlord accomplices, convict them of their crimes and exile them to the Moon.