Archive for February, 2012

Sunday, February 19th, 2012


from “Hotel Kowloon”


Someone has just thrown up in the lobby of the hotel;

I’m trying to figure out what they had for lunch.


The food here is of variable quality and tourists are advised

to seek advice and when in doubt to err on the side of caution.

Saturday, February 18th, 2012


It is said that beards came into fashion in England in the thirteenth century, but by the nineteenth century they seem to have been given up by those holding leading positions in the land. Traces of beards do not appear on monumental brasses. A revival of the practice of wearing the beard occurred in the reign of Henry VIII., and in some quarters attempts were made to repress it. The authorities at Lincoln’s Inn prohibited lawyers wearing beards from sitting at the great table, unless they paid double commons; but it is highly probable that this was before 1535, when the king ordered his courtiers to “poll their hair,” and permit the crisp beard to grow. Taxing beards followed, and the amount was graduated according to the condition of the person wearing this hirsute adornment. An entry has often been reproduced from the Burghmote Book of Canterbury, made in the second year of the reign of Edward VI., to the effect that the Sheriff of Canterbury and another paid their dues for wearing beards, 3s. 4d. and 1s. 8d. During the next reign, Queen Mary does not appear to have meddled with the beard. She sent four agents to Moscow, and all were bearded; one of the number, George Killingworth, had an unusually long one, measuring 5ft. 2in. in length, the sight of which caused a smile to light up the face of Ivan the Terrible. It is described as a thick, broad, and yellow beard, and we are told that Ivan played with it after dinner as if it were a new toy. When Sir Thomas More laid his head on the block he carefully put his beard aside, saying, “It hath done no treason.”

William Andrews, from At the Sign of the Barber’s Pole – Studies in Hirsute History (1904)

Friday, February 17th, 2012


I am drinking coffee in Tsim Sha Tsui and the rain is drenching a young girl carrying vegetables to market. I wish I could be a young girl carrying vegetables to market. I would be happier than I am now drinking coffee alone in Tsim Sha Tsui.

Thursday, February 16th, 2012




The panda – once mostly confined to the photograph and the memory – is becoming almost as common in the Chinese countryside as the stray dog and the migrant worker just returned from the city into rural poverty.

Some people are delighted to have these elusive creatures back home, but others claim they ruin the environment and spread anti-Party propaganda so they are paying to have them caught by specially trained patrols.

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012


Gareth can’t figure out why does the girl with the longest legs also have the longest face? His brain isn’t the strongest, and about girls he knows less than even I but he knows better than any man not to put someone else’s words into her ears e.g. “My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears.”

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012


A thought flies in the window.

I heard it buzz and then

you flattened it with “Six

Centuries of Great Poetry” like it

was an uninvited bug. Someone

is always hammering endlessly

away above us. Closing the curtains

to push the day into the past is

forgetfulness. A method of.

Monday, February 13th, 2012


Through the overhanging trees I come with musket and emotions easy enough to feel but terribly difficult to describe with any kind of accuracy.

Sunday, February 12th, 2012


I need my hair cutting,

says Despair,

looking into the looking-glass

he or she always carries.

Guitar sounds of the jangly variety

drift in through the open window.

Saturday, February 11th, 2012




The bluebird is the quintessential helpful garden bird

and the first time its song is heard at twilight

in the weeks after the winter solstice and the dawn of the new year

it means we should not lose our faith in love

(and Spring cannot be far behind).

Friday, February 10th, 2012


In the red bag is the North Star and the travel documents Abigail found within a stone’s throw of the livery stables where the ghost of our childhood horse slumbers in the midnight.