Friday, August 28, 2009

Perhaps the funniest thing you will read this year

…is this exchange in Comment is Free , in which posh eco-warrior (and fabulously bad poet award-winning poet, orang utan rehabilitator, McDonalds sweeper and honorary member of the Lani tribe of New Guinea) Paul Kingsnorth* and George Monbiot debate whether civilisation is worth their while preserving in the face of the various imminent financial and environmental catastrophes.

Paul argues that we should embrace the post-apocalyptic future now, while George politely disagrees and decides that no, on reflection, he will continue to use his position as a Guardian columnist to save billions of lives.


(via The Hooting Yard)

*Amendment to original post made in deference to Mr Kingsnorth's perfectly reasonable objection that he is not, in fact, posh and was dragged up in a hellish-sounding state school


Uncle Dick Madeley said...

"The clever ape is losing his mind again"

Here I lingered as a small part of me died.

Paul said...

"People cannot help themselves.
Half-awake, hurtling in convoy
through Exmoor’s Christmas frosted fields,
A tin toy snuggled against a tree ahead"

And you call me a fabulously bad poet? Good lord man, motes and beams ...

As for a being a 'posh eco-warrior' - it looks like your ability to gets your facts straight is as about as impressive as your ability to work out what metre is. I'm a state school boy me, boringly lower middle class and - dash it all - with no private income. barely even an A level in my family background, chummy. It's a tough life (and about to get tougher).

Nice try though. Keep up the reading, won't you?

Brit said...

Bloody hell, I didn't expect you to do a De Botton on my ass.

Well, Paul, I can't honestly deny my poetic badness. Worse, I'm just ordinary bad. In fact, even at my very best I'm no more than doggerel-producing rhyme jockey.

"Fabulously bad" is really a compliment, as it's so much more interesting than ordinary bad. There have only been about a dozen non-bad poets in the history of English literature, after all, so it would be the worst kind of hubris for anyone to think beyond some kind of bad.

Apologies for the 'posh' jibe, if it was misplaced. As it happens, I was on your side against George M... I thought you done great.

Brit said...

Incidentally, as a member of the non-posh classes, you may enjoy this particular piece of bad poetry.

worm said...

brilliant! please summon up more literary figures to come on here and defend their 'street' credentials!

Paul said...

OK, semi-apology accepted. As for being a bad poet, fabulous or otherwise ... I recommend reading W S Merwin's poem 'Berryman' for a final verdict on the work of any living poet. It's quite possible that everything I write is drivel, but I'll let posterity decide on that. This means I don't have be around to listen.

John Major went to a grammar school, you know. Many things he may have been, but posh was not one of them. It's kind of you to call me a 'literary figure', worm. I'm actually more of a hack with a google alert. But I don't recall using the word 'street'. There's a yawning gulf between the ghetto and the lawns of Eton, and I am sitting right in the middle of it.

Brit said...

...right in the middle of it, proudly brandishing an anti-capitalist placard, no doubt.

Spoken like a gentleman, Paul (though obviously not in the posh sense of 'gentleman', he hastily added). I'm so semi-relieved.

Paul said...

I am too old for placards. And too busy being a semi-poet.

Brit said...


The best of British to you, and if our paths cross again, may it be in happier circumstances...

...Perhaps amid the ruins of Bragggrad (formerly London) as twin founders of The First Post-Apocalyptic League of Fabulously Bad Poets, Rhyming Division (me) and NeoMythical FreeVerse Division (you).

Frank Key said...

The spat about the badness or otherwise of the poetry should not distract from the laughable and rather grotesque sight of a child of relative privilege - and I'm sorry, but in my book the Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe and Oxford University are, at a global scale, high privilege indeed - yearning for the collapse of the civilisation that has nurtured him, thereby denying its benefits to everyone else.

Janice Moor said...

This is why the internet is such an amazing wonder! I followed the link to Mr Kingsnorth's poems and immediately recalled some of the fascinating juvenalia of renowned poet (and my special interest) Grayson Ellis - in particular the 'Creation Myth' poems written when he was a 14-year old schoolboy.

The resonance is remarkable! I have posted on this here:

Vern said...

It's awesome when a grad of a quality grammar school and Oxford tries to pass himself off as some kind of lower middle class up by the bootstraps type. Oh wait a minute- I misspoke. It's total bollocks. You silly boy, you.