Ear Plugs

Great fan of these. Though my most recent acquisitions are shaped like rubber bullets. It thus feels like I am shooting peace and solitude into my head, a kind of inverse crowd control.

I love a good oxymoron but not as much as oxyacetylene torches. If I could I’d have a welding torch in my studio. For every story I’d edit, for every song I’d write, I’d weld another strut in the tower of song. I’d make a skyscraper prone to earthquakes but with great views.  The wild wind would whip around my head up top but I would hear nuttin with my ear plugs in. Gently push the bullet towards the brain. Go on now. Gently.

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The Next Big Thing

We interrupt this blog and its recent meditation on shoes and boots and handstands for a bit of blatant self publicity. “The Next Big Thing” is a self referential interview that’s been  hopping round the writer’s community. You question yourself on your latest opus, “tag” someone for the next interrogation and then they pull their socks off, until everyone gets to show their bunions in public.

I was tagged by the unclassifiable surrealist writer and one man novel engine Douglas Thompson. Douglas has about four novels coming out or just released and is probably having a novel published in the Balkans that even he can’t remember writing. What’s more his poetry has just been included in the legendary Ambit Magazine which Carol Anne Duffy and J G Ballard cut their teeth on and then edited.

But let’s tiptoe into my latest strangeness.

1) What is the title of your next book?

The Centrally Locked Mothers of America.

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?

Lord knows. These things pop into my head like a finger through a piece of cellophane.  I seem to have a thing about people and animals being pushed around on small wooden castors. (My first book was about dogs on castors made into furniture. This is one has a cast of comatose American mothers being rolled about on little wheels)

3) What genre does your book fall under?

The genre that includes animate beings being rolled around on little castors. Either that or “Home Improvement”.

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

The main protagonist in “The Centrally Locked Mothers of America”, Professor Wolfenstein, is a bit of a lothario. So probably a Hollywood bad boy. Or a younger Alan Rickman. Someone with balls and hair.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

A professor is completely paralysed by the syndrome he helps to discover and then wakes up on a cloud-base in the sky surrounded by his naked female patients playing tennis.

6) When will the book be published?

As soon as I get my bunions looked at.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

Well I wrote the first draft over  3 months. There’s been a lot of drawer slamming and rewrites and WD 4o since then.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Automatic Safe Dog” ( my first novel about dog furniture) . And I know it sounds poncy but Renee Descartes “Meditations” must have been a big  influence ( the philosopher who came up with the mind body divide)  Think of my book as  a mix of Descartes and those patient information leaflets wilting in the racks of the doctors surgery like forlorn birds. Mix that with an Elmore Leonard potboiler,  a dash of cumin and Borges, a few shavings of bunion and you’re there.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

The man pulling the strings at the bottom of my brainstem. I don’t know who he is or what he’s doing there but all day long he’s pulling on those ropes like a bell ringer at a coronation.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

Sex in the sky, sex on earth and not much contraception.

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Army Stands with Boot Hands

This is also possible in a Spike Milligan kind of way but not especially helpful as having boots on your hands while firing a rifle is, at the very least, a bit clumsy.  If you had particular skills in this area you might be able to fire the weapon with your toes while doing a handstand into your army boots. This presents its own difficulties with toe size, dexterity, trigger access and loss of balance due to report after firing. But given that problem-solving by killing people is already pretty stupid then this can only improve matters or at least improvise them.

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Handstands in Army Boots

This is possible but a bit top heavy.

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Walking in Walking shoes

There’s nothing like a good warm walking shoe to bounce upon the earth. The only problem is dog shit. I’m pretty neutral on dogs. But not dog shit.

It doesn’t matter how Vibram soled Goretex layered your walking shoe is it will not be impervious to dog shit. In fact your molten lead resistant super strong yet flexible yet cushioned shoe Vibram base with intricate jigsaw puzzle grip surface attracts dog  shit. It dreams of it. It weds it. It writes love poems to it and goes on honeymoon to Bali with it and asks if it can move in on a cohabiting basis and share domestic duties pinned to the kitchen noticeboard with it.

If I walked predominantly on Scarpa Fell or Ben Nevis I might get sheep poo. But for an urban walker with mountain pretensions you get the arse end of civilisation.

None of this would matter if we lived in a culture where we took our shoes off before we entered the house (as per Islam) But we live in a society where the shoe is a welcome guest on our Axminsters and sheep wool rugs.

What to do? Stop walking in walking shoes? Carry a pressure hose with you at all times and spray the path ahead like a vain fireman? Or walk barefoot through the shopping malls and always carry a wet wipe.

I’m going to wrap my super waterproof super breathable acid and alkali resistant walking shoes in Waitrose carrier bags and crunch through the streets like an explorer aching for the pure white fall of snow.

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Walking in bike shoes

I cycle so much nowadays I wear cycling shoes with metal cleats in the bottom that lock into the pedals rather than choose my comfortable leather loafers. I’m  writing and thinking about bicycles so much that when I close my eyes I can see wheels within wheels like a hula hoop party.

But there’s only so much cycling and cycling related thought a cycling related writer can cycle.

So I’ve taken to walking in my cycling shoes. “Damn these shoes,” I think. ( For I think in a kindly 1950’s RAF kind of way. Where shoes are damned and handkerchiefs jolly)

For all the excitement of cycling there is an equal and indivisible excitement in walking. A pause of a breath in the slow lilt of a good stroll. When I walk in my cycling shoes the metal “cleats” in the soles crunch against the grit on the pavement. Like celery being munched on mercury fillings. You may not like celery but it is a very present meal. And every step in the crunchy walk of a cycling shoe is a very present walk.

Crunch. Leaf blows from branch and flip flops onto windscreen like autumnal parking ticket. Crunch. Woman peers into bakery in moment of cake uncertainty. Crunch. Puddle shakes like granny wrinkles. The walk of the cycle shoe has the power to make the world brace and shiver in all its mundane brilliance.

The walk of the cycle shoe is a low wire circus act of incalculable bravery and Buddhist foolishness.

The walk of the cycle shoe is a deceleration into hob nailed contemplation and velorapture.

So here’s to walking in cycling shoes.

And here’s to cycling in flip flop blues.

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My Hair

Last night I went to put a couple of logs in the fire, it being winter n all and my ostentatious quiff got dipped in a puddle of melted wax by mistake. I now have little blebs of candle in my hair. Like brain sap.

Every time I try and remove a bleb I pull out a tuft of George Clooney salt and pepper gorgeousness. This not something a Z list celebrity like me likes to do.

“So. Go wash your hair Grebo!” says mirror mirror.

Go wash your own hair Kate Middleton.

If I put any kind of cleaning product in my hair I end up looking like that fuzz that gets caught in the rollers of vacuum cleaners.

And so I am stuck with this puddly birds nest. I’m thinking I should shave it all off. Or twist the strands into a wick. Light them. And float down Bristol Harbour like a Zen lantern, my light flickering across the faces of the drunks and the pasta eyed poets.

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Fantasy Convention

Just come back from Fantasy convention in Brighton. I’d been nominated for a Best Newcomer award for “Automatic Safe Dog”. Unfortunately no award for the Dog book but I did get to eat a lovely curry with a gang of weirdo writers and ride around Brighton on a sit up and beg bike chasing seagulls.

What I’ll do with a seagull when I catch one I’m not sure. Perhaps seagulls are a bit like homing pigeons and if you catch one you can tie a note above its horny claw and bid it adieu to the blue sky.  I would write on my seagull note “Bring more tea.” or “Let me do cartwheels after the gym closes.” or  “Books about Dog Furniture are the new literary novel. Wake up John Sutherland and smell the bonemeal.” or “Tell Jonathon Livingstone Seagull to get existentialist on my New Age Ass. ” Somesuch important message.

There have continued to be some good reviews of “Automatic Safe Dog” in the archipelagos of cyberspace. Such as this one from Fright.com

 Obviously this isn’t your grandmother’s corporate satire. The novel will surely upset just as many readers as it enchants, yet in today’s economy-devouring corporate culture I believe Jet McDonald’s raunchy, surreal and altogether outrageous brand of absurdity is exactly what we need.”

This is what I will write on the haunch of my seagull when I finally catch one.  And yet they always fly a finger breadth away , as I ride one handed down to the sea.


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Behead the matchsticks

I told a story last night. It ended with me biting the sulphur head off a matchstick. The matchstick represented a deposed king, the puppet tyrant of a matchstick army. I gave everyone in the audience their own matchstick to take home,  bite the head off and bury deep  in the soil.  But at the end of the night most matchsticks had been returned unharmed. What’s the matter don’t you like the taste of sulphur?

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Show in a Chip Shop

On Saturday the 26th May I will be performing in an old chip shop in Stroud in a collaboration with Ed Patrick/ Kid Carpet. The show is part of “Stroud Site festival” and we are fantastically lucky to be performing our show, itself based on dual identities, in an old chip shop.  We were going to be in a disused railway shed but frankly “The Golden Fish Bar” right in the centre of Strouds shopping area was an opportunity too good to miss. Ed and I have written the show together and it’s packed full of charity shop songs and ideas. We will be performing three shows on the day and each show will be different based on what we’ve found in three Stroud charity shops. Ambitious? Possibly. Crazy. Perhaps. Entertaining. You got ya.

From 11am onwards Saturday 26th May at The Golden Fish Bar  1 London Road, Town Centre, Stroud, GL5 2AA. Look outside the fish bar for show times on the day. (NB the programme says we are in the goods shed but we have changed location to The Golden Fish Bar)

Second Hand Identity
An experimental performance
Saturday 26th May 11am-5pm
Brunel Goods Shed, Stroud GL5 3AP
Ed Patrick (Kid Carpet) and Jet McDonald
collaborate on a new performance
experiment. Second Hand Identity changes
with every show. Charity shops and car
boot sales are gleaned to provide all the
characters and props which are sold,
auctioned or somehow got rid of by the
end of the piece. One performance may
be about Princess Diana and located on a
chessboard, the next could be about
He-Man and set in Skegness. Somehow
the story and songs remain the same.



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