'Um', John Paton (detail)

Notes on recent posts …
22 May 2017

Double in Ourselves‘ was short-listed for the notJack Prize for “writing from place” nearly five months ago. This morning the short-listees discovered that after all this time the organisers of the prize have decided not to award it because they can’t make up their minds! Someone is having truffles and champagne for dinner, but it’s not the writers.

In a remarkable coincidence the Swedish Academy has today announced new protocols for the selection of laureates in the field of literature. I hope you read Swedish but, if not, you could always try Google Translate.

18 April 2017

I was sitting at the table. We had finished dinner. We were now having dessert. And we had the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake that you’ve ever seen. And President Xi was enjoying it. And I was given the message from the generals that the ships are locked and loaded. What do you do?  President von Clownstick

It is only a couple of months into Von Clownstick’s presidency but suddenly it feels like 1980 again. Except that, as Marx predicted, it feels this time more like farce than tragedy. I’ve written something new about this, an aside about how the state of modern international politics made me feel like a teenager again.

Celebration Park, Kansas USA—Gardner Police Station photograph of mountain lion.
Celebration Park, Kansas USA—Gardner Police Station photograph of mountain lion.

The strangeness of politics seems to be on everyone’s minds. Late night show hosts and comedians don’t seem to be able to talk about anything else. I feel the same way. When the police of Gardner, a town near Kansas, USA, late last year investigated sightings of a mountain lion and set up cameras to get a picture of the animal, they found that locals had been pranking them. The resulting photographs are a delight.  ‘Are these the people  who voted for Trump?’ I asked myself.  I could like them. My kind of people. The cognitive dissonance set off by the photos ended up in a poem, which is what normally happens when I can’t explain what I’m thinking, even to myself.