I have personally experienced all of these, except the deleted line, of course.

‘If Bob Dylan from the 60s took a look at stand-up comedy today, I think it would be a little bit like this’ –the comedian Stewart Lee:

There’s a bus that never comes, except in threes.
There’s a train that never runs, because of leaves.
[an extremely offensive line deleted]
And there’s a toaster that always burns the bread.*

In a town North-east of England, the weather’s always freezing.
And the girls parade around in inappropriate clothing.


*Earlier in the show, Lee makes fun of jokes such as “I hate my toaster. It’s only got two settings: Black burned charcol or only warm bread.”

Rhyming ‘pass’ with ‘memoirs’

Back in 2008, the partner introduced me to a song by The Lucksmiths, “The Chapter in Your Life Entitled San Francisco” (click here to listen to the song). This love song is pleasant to listen to and the story is sad in a sweet way. You know the old story: boy loves girl, girl leaves boy, boy misses girl.
I like the lyrics. The first line “Is it April yet?”, bursted out breathlessly by the singer, immediately reminds one of T.S. Eliot’s everlasting condemnation of the month. I particularly like the instances when writing (or lack of substantial writing) is mentioned: “I went a fortnight without so much as an email / Then a postcard scant of detail”. And here: “Or will I never know the meaning / Of the lines you scribbled out / So that I couldn’t read between?” This is showing, not telling. You know the boy is trying to understand the textual remains of the girl. Why? Because she is on his mind. He misses her.
And the most impressive lines are: “Should it one day come to pass / That you sit down to your memoirs”. “Memoirs” is stretched long in angst. I have never thought of rhyming “pass” with “memoirs”. I like clever rhymes (“email” and “detail” (see previous paragraph) are good too), and it is obvious that The Lucksmiths are talented with words and apparently they are also quite serious about rhymes. It was said that they spent about two years thinking of a suitable rhyme for “San Francisco”.
In the end, they chose “go”.
Well, simple is good.
I like having rhyming lines in my poems, but unfortunately I am not very good at doing that. Some publications indicate explicitly that they do not want rhyming poetry. I never fully comprehend this prejudice. 
My proudest rhyming moments in poetry, as far as I can remember, must be the following lines from a poem titled “Deceiving the World”, which was first published in Envoi in February 2007: “Words are foolish, they signify nothing. / They sing” (3rd stanza) and “My bare feet feel the centre of your chest. / You know the rest.” (5th stanza). The first stanza (A man, a woman: / Rubric of a romance.) was inspired by Professor Kerr’s analysis of Pygmalion, Shaw’s celebrated play which we were teaching the first-year students at the University of Hong Kong at the time when I composed the poem.
I wish I could come up with something as good as ‘pass’ and ‘memoirs’ in one of my future poems.

What is true about love?

“Lovers” by Rene Magritte
In Jonathan Ames’s Bored to Death (HBO), the character George, played brilliantly by Ted Danson (have you watched Cheers?), answers (but not indisputably):

I am in your movie. You are in mine. Two different films, really. We don’t really know each other. We just make a guess at knowing each other, right? I think the same is true about love.



Thanks, JZ and JD, for this beautiful song:


Merry Christmas to friends and family

“Champaign and cinnamon candle”. Photo courtesy of E & S
On Christmas Eve, two friends visited us and we spent a joyous afternoon and evening together, eating, drinking, chatting and playing games. Happy times. The picture above was taken by them.

May all our friends and family have a wonderful Christmas and a happy New Year.

This year, my Christmas song choices are this and this.

Nowhere Boy

Aaron Johnson is handsome (and young!). We watched Sam Taylor-Wood’s Nowhere Boy, a film about the young John Lennon, played rather convincingly, I must say, by Aaron Johnson. However, he is certainly not as good as Kristin Scott Thomas, who plays Lennon’s aunt, Mimi Smith. She is so good she is better than the rest of the cast combined.
Apart from Kristin Scott Thomas, the film also benefits from a great soundtrack. One of the songs that I liked was Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’s “I Put a Spell on You”. I instantly fell in love with it but I also wanted to listen to a female cover. I found Nina Simone’s version rather good too.
Another song that captured my attention was John Lennon’s “Mother” (listen to it here), which made me cry when it’s being played at the end of the film. The song is autobiographical: Lennon is talking to his mother, Julia Lennon, who was killed on the street by a drunk driver when he was 17 (‘Mother, you had me but I never had you, / I wanted you but you didn’t want me’) and his father, Alf Lennon, who walked out of his life when he was just a kid (‘Farther, you left me but I never left you, / I needed you but you didn’t need me’). While in the first part of the song, the persona says ‘Goodbye’ to his father and mother, the second part of the song is a desperate and heart-wrenching plea to both parents: ‘Mama don’t go’ and ‘Daddy come home’ are repeated again and again. You can feel the sense of hysteric helplessness in Lennon’s singing and the simple lyrics (no doubt appropriating a sad child’s vocabulary) but there is no harsh resentment. A plea to a parent not to go (emotionally, physically, mortally, whatever), obviously, also reminds one of Dylan Thomas’s poem.