Joan Lennon's Blog
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Friday, December 18, 2009
Living in a Fluffy Universe
This post is an article by Alan Smith, lifted whole from The Guardian on the 24th November. I practically never cut things out of newspapers (my mother was an inveterate newspaper-cutter and so, in the way of children everywhere, I am most emphatically not) but the picture of the parrot drew me. And when I'd read it I wanted to cut it out to read again. It's called "Keeping mum about Mr Parrot" and at a time of frenetic jolliness and gloomy year end reviews, it makes me feel hopeful inside. Here it is:
Tony can't get over the parrot. "Are you sure," he says, "about punishing this parrot?" Casey turns to him and says: "If you can hold an intelligent conversation with it, then sure, it's a person like anybody else." "It's not human," I say, "but it's a person." Tony takes a couple of seconds to gather himself. "So, am I a person?" "Is this an intelligent conversation?" asks Casey. "And this is John Locke is it?" "It sure is," says Ian. "And," says Tony, "if a human was like a parrot and not a person," pause, "could I eat him?" Ian's eyes light up, "Of course," he says, "why ever not?" "There are people in here who should be eaten right now," says Casey.
I can see John smiling at all this, and seeing John smile is quite something. John has been terribly ill, life-threateningly ill, in fact when Ian told us that he'd been shipped out to the local hospital it crossed our minds that it might be curtains. But here he is, and when he walked in this morning, I grabbed him, and when Casey saw him, he grabbed him, too. "I think we should keep quiet about all this," says John. "You know, Mr Parrot and cannibalism and all that. They might close us down." "What?" says Ade. "What do you mean: close us down?"
There has, in fact, been talk of closing the philosophy class. "They don't think that it gets you ready for the real world." "What," says Tony, "like the packing shop does?" I'm a bit taken aback by the sudden vehemence in the room. "This is real rehabilitation, this is," says Ade. Is it? I'd always liked the idea of being a waste of time. But Ade is right, of course. Philosophy and history and all those subjects that the bureaucrats have referred to as "fluffy" ("Fluffy?" says John, "Fluffy? Cheeky bastards.") – what they do is make you feel secure. Most of my guys have never been offered any kind of cultural education, have no real idea of who they are, where they come from. No one has given them much in the way of a systematic understanding of, for example, history – and so they have only a sketchy idea of what is happening to them. They are a bit lost. Like most of their contemporaries, I guess. Then, in step the useless ones, wasting time.
"It's like Michael Angelo," says Rhys. "He used to sit there just thinking about things. Not doing anything." "Yeah, he was," says John, "he was working." "From now on," says Ian, "that's what I'm going to tell people."
"They're not going to close us down are they, Al?" says Ade. And he sounds quite anxious. "No," I tell him. "Not with the power of the press behind us. I've told them that if they do, I shall denounce them in the Guardian: name the guilty men. They're running scared." Not that I suppose they are. My mother always used to say: "What can't think, can't feel."
"I want to live in a fluffy universe," says Tony. "I know you fuckin do," says Casey, "so let me set your tormented mind free."
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Like most writers, I wander over to the Amazon site on a semi-regular basis to see how my books are doing ... Then, "Never mind," I tell myself, and rise above it. (Like a large goose trying to take off from a pond, I rise above things like this by sheer effort rather than with any discernible ease or grace.)
But one of the things that I have found under my name on Amazon.co.uk is a small collection of books that I didn't, in fact, write. "The At Risk Child" is an example. The Joan M. Lennon who wrote that must be really peeved to have it sharing a list with The Ferret Princess and The Bad-Tempered Dragon. Lacking in gravitas, you'd have to say.
And then there's the book by me that doesn't even exist.
Untitled, it's called. It has an ISBN and everything. No publisher, sadly.
I used to be cross about this book, until recently it struck me that the entry wasn't an inefficency so much as a vote of confidence. Amazon was saying, "We're so convinced you've got another new book in the pipeline that we've reserved a space for it already. And an ISBN. We love you - and we just can't wait!" It is the slot for every book I ever wrote that the publishers didn't want. And every book I'm currently writing. And every book I will be writing this time next year or next decade.
Nice. Thank you, Amazon!
Sunday, December 06, 2009
And on ABBA ...
... I'm back. Come over and see me there!