Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Kingsnorth strikes back!

Yesterday during my lunch break I went a-blackberry pickin’. With a Hey! Ho! A fiddle-faddle-o!

No, hang on. It was with a Hey! Ho! A foddle-diddle-doe! Yes, that was it.

Ed, Will and Ginger would have been proud of me. Tonight a free crumble courtesy of Mother Nature. (Apart from the cooking apples, butter, caster sugar etc - those were courtesy of Asda.)

Mmm, nostalgic business, blackberry-picking. Isn’t it? Summer’s on the wane? Strolling down the lanes? Eating all the best ones instead of popping them in the punnet? Pack away the cricket bat, dig out the footy boots? Small boys in the park, jumpers for goalposts? Marvellous.

There’s always a better blackberry further on though. Or just out of reach. Or dangerously low, in dog-weeing territory . These are fat flies in the blackberry-picking ointment. It becomes obsessive; after a while one gets into a sort of picking frenzy, like when you lose the plot at an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet. Competitive too, if other pickers are abroad. Alas, human nature always gets in the way of one’s ideals.

Which brings me at last to the matter at hand. Literary figure Paul Kingsnorth pops by to check on his status as Think of England’s "bête noire ", and, God bless him, reveals a sense of humour. Of course, there are no bête noires on Think of England. All are welcome in this broadest of all possible churches*, even, perhaps especially, eschatological crunchy conservatives like Paul and heretical Beatles-deniers like Vern.

Anyway, Paul, it seems, is suffering from Eschatologist’s Block. He writes: I don't have any plans to do anything especially reactionary or romantic over the next few weeks though. At least not in public. I imagine this means my hit rate here will go down. I wouldn't want that to happen, so I'll put my mind to it and see what I can come up with (taps pipe thoughtfully on chesterfield and leans back pensively).

So the question for you, readers and commenters: In order to keep his hit rate riding high, can you suggest a suitable reactionary and/or romantic move for Paul to make, in public, and preferably in the next few days?

*Except, of course, 9/11 Conspiracy Theorists and Manchester United fans. Got to have some standards.


worm said...

In all seriousness, I think that having your own blog bete noir is possibly the coolest thing ever

I think it would be awesome if Paul would agree to a Q+A session here on TofE, with a selection of questions from your readers (approved by you, Brit)

Perhaps in this way we can confront evil head-on and learn to come to terms with it

Uncle Dick Madeley said...

I'll be available all week for him to touch my knee. No higher than my thigh, mind! Not on a first date.

malty said...

Peculiar West Country habits you have, blackberries, stone me, just buy 'em in Morrisons, like everyone else.
Well then, things of a reactionary or romantic nature, not really either but its Oktober soon, off to the fest with him, stand beneath the clock in the Marienplaza and every morning at ten, read one passage out loud from Michael Burleighs subliminal Third Reich whilst a Lenni Riefenstahl lookalike films him and through a loudspeaker is played the crowd noises from the Nurenburg rallies Arbeitsdienst Parade, won't that cause a reaction though but.
PS, the Lowenbrau Oktoberfest is the favourite tipple in the square.

Heil Löwenbräu-Bier!

Brit said...

Blimey that's a good one, Malty.

Would you be up for the above suggestion Paul? (worm's, not Uncle Dick's obviously, though the latter is certainly romantic).

Paul said...

For some reason, and despite being a literary figure, I have not been asked to sit on the judging panel of either the Booker or Costa prizes this year. Therefore I will compensate for this by awarding a prize for the best suggestion here. A thumbed and stained copy of my latest, deeply reactionary, book, goes to anyone who can make me laugh. After all, you would clearly be nothing without me, so I may as well do my bit for charity.

So far though, no cigar. Not even a smile. Nazis and knee-touching? You can do better than this. I demand high standards. I put a lot of effort into my eschatology and I expect the same from others.

Paul said...

Oh, and I might consider a Q&A, but I would need expenses.

Brit said...

Ah, expenses could be an issue, Paul, since I blew Think of England's entire 2009/10 budget on the ingredients for this blasted blackberry crumble (£2.30). I can however offer you blogging immortality (and, if Rifftrax ever recovers from the guest post which appears to have killed it, a vast American audience for your ideas)

But the competition sounds like a great idea. A challenge: who can bring forth a Kingsnorth chuckle?

martpol said...

Tomorrow is World Maritime Day, apparently focusing on climate change as an issue for sailors everywhere. (Tinkers, soldiers and spies will doubtless get their own observance day at a later date.)

Apropos of Paul's original dispute with George Monbiot that caused Brit's original comment, I propose that Paul takes the opportunity to write a love poem to George, with appropriate reference to seas of change and rising tides. Publication in the Guardian is optional, though given that they used to take any old opportunity to promote Andrew Motion, I'd have thought he'd have a pretty good chance of making the front page.

worm said...

Paul: I hear there's currently a place available in the Sugababes

your lyrics could be heard on the world stage

think about it

Brit said...

Hang on, there's two things going on at the same time here: are we trying to come up with sensible suggestions for the 'North's next move, or are we trying to give him a laugh? I've been attempting to work something up about an alternative to The Beatles: Rock Band game using root vegetable instruments but I'm falling between the two stools.

I think Martpol's suggestion is pretty viable - a poem commemorating the Monbiot debate is also perfect for Paul's skillset.

worm said... about this.....

like on 'Who's line is it anyway?'

we suggest a topic and a poetic genre style, and then Paul has to write us a poem using those guidelines.

for example, a poem about the lack of organic wholefood soup kitchens for homeless people in west london, in the style of pam ayers

jonathan law said...

Paul, as a robust champion of all things local, traditional, and English how about a campaign to revive the noble art of singlestick? Surely it’s time to rescue this much-loved rural pastime from the dull forces of globalization and political correctness?
In case you’re not already a fan, this was a simple but elegant form of cudgel play in which two stout English yokels strove to beat each other senseless with wooden staves (ash, I believe, for preference). No part of the body was considered out-of-bounds, apart from the groin and the back of the head, and no protective clothing was worn. The winner was the first player to draw an inch-long trickle of blood from his opponent’s temples.

Indeed, in certain hardcore versions the tedious, effete, and altogether un-English element of thrust and parry was omitted altogether, and the players simply took it in turns to whack each other across the noddle until a winner emerged. Surely this would be an altogether more manly (not to say romantic and reactionary) way to resolve your differences with George M. than squabbling in Comment is Free?

I leave you with the words of C. Phillipps-Wolley, in his excellent Singlestick and Broadsword(1898):

“What the ordinary Englishman wants is a game with which he may fill up the hours during which he cannot play cricket and need not work; a game in which he may exercise those muscles with which good mother Nature meant him to earn his living, but which custom has condemned to rust, while his brain wears out; a game in which he may hurt some one else, is extremely likely to be hurt himself, and is certain to earn an appetite for dinner. If any one tells me that my views of amusement are barbaric or brutal, that no reasonable man ever wants to hurt any one else or to risk his own precious carcass, I accept the charge of brutality, merely remarking that it was the national love of hard knocks which made this little island famous, and I for one do not wish to be thought any better than the old folk of England's fighting days.”

Brit said...

Oho, now we're cooking... strong contender that, Jonathan.

martpol said...

I absolutely love that quote.

worm said...

We could film an episode of 'Who do you think you are' for the BBC where Paul Kingsnorth, ecopoet, is disgusted to find out that his real father is a coal fired power station on the kent marshes.

malty said...

OK, so a rain check is taken on the Munich thing, didn't know there was a bit of a history with Capt B.
As we are all well aware, the newspaper industry is in the process of meeting its final print run, heading for that big Wapping in the sky. Whilst there is still time Paul could write a lengthy obituary, motif led of course, interwoven with wispy threads of England's bygone glories, oast houses in Staplehurst, Newcastle Exhibition sans CO2, the open doors of blacksmiths shops, inky fingered compositors, ready reckoners, Hollerith machines, clippies, hot buttered toast and of course petrol at 4/11d a gallon.
Think of the satisfaction, the accolades, the invites (maybe even strictly) a whole new world awaits, still steeped in tradition though.

I would fancy groping onkel Dickies leg meself only he reminds me of my mate Barry from Letchworth, circa 1972

Gaw said...

I have two suggestions:

1. Offer to replace Monbiot in the debate the Spectator are trying to set up with Plimer. This would shame Monbiot as well as giving you a platform for your sincerely held views. A twofer.

2. Do a sponsored walk up and down Oxford Street wearing a sandwich board bearing the message 'The End is Nigh' and ringing the sort of bell that used to signal 'bring out your dead'. I might possibly sponsor you at the rate of 10p per circuit (Centre Point to Marble Arch and back). Other, wealthier, ToE readers would probably use this as a baseline.

The latter suggestion would also have the benefit of reviving a charming English tradition, which appears to have fallen into desuetude in recent years.

worm said...

good idea gaw - and on the back it can say 'Golf Sale'

malty said...

10P, hold on a minute, that's taking things a bit too far Gaw, I had thought perhaps giving tips. EG.. don't wash your feet while wearing socks.

worm said...

as a verbose wilderness poet, paul's reply should have read:

Paul said...

Oh, and I might consider a Q&A, but I would need expanses.
11:54 AM

David said...

But do we not now find ourselves in an epistemological conundrum, in that any action Paul takes after it is suggested on TofE is, by definition, a reactionary move? Indeed, we can perform epistemological transubstantiation simply by suggesting that Paul make a radical move and, if he does, hey presto the radical is now reactionary.

I also first read Gaw as suggesting that Paul wear a sign proclaiming that the "End is Nige" which would be funny, though something of an in-joke.

martpol said...

"...we can perform epistemological transubstantiation simply by suggesting that Paul make a radical move and, if he does, hey presto the radical is now reactionary."

Isn't this roughly how the Daily Mail works?

Brit said...

Well you've certainly deepened the discussion, David. Do we not need to distinguish here between 'reactionary' as in being a reaction to one of our suggestions, and 'Reactionary', being an objective quality when placed in the context of societal mores? On the other hand, who are the commenters of TofE to be the arbiters of 'Reactionary'? He can probably still do something romantic though.

Monkey tennis?

Brit said...

Oh and FYI: the blackberry crumble was a great success.

martpol said...

Nice work. Did you put oats in the topping?

Brit said...

Funnily, no. Is that a Top Tip?

martpol said...

Replace up to half the flour with porridge oats. Trust me, it'll change your life.

malty said...

Fearing a damp squib ending to this highly charged and multi-faceted subject I offer one final solution, no pun intended.
PK will form a Temperance Seven tribute band called Whispering Paul and the Luddites. The first gig will be held in the V&A with Paul crooning thro' an arts and crafts megaphone, the Luddites, nine in number (one euphonium to rule them all) will play atop a haywain. The final number can be a Betjaminesqe tribute to British Rail.
Every year a festival of Ludditery can be held in Fred Dibnah's garden, ending with the anthem Didn't we have a lovely time the day we went to Bangor.
So, with that, I shall away and escort Frau Malty around John Lewis's, if upon my return I find the offer rejected I shall go and stand at the fence and sulk.

Brit said...

Good save, Malty!

Actually this could be the perfect opportunity for a longstanding project of mine, which has been on the backburner for a while, namely The Society of E-Luddites. Paul as President, Ed Will and Ginger as cheerleaders and rabble-rousers, Peter B on drums and for legal advice, Nige on bassoon and Lou Gots* as comic relief.

*in-joke, sorry

Anonymous said...

I'd jump at the chance, Brit, especially if we got to look for butterflies and play singlestick between gigs, but I'm not sure Paul would have me. I simply can't abide locally grown produce. The missus and I will only buy stuff flown in by jumbo jet from faraway lands. I'll tell you, nothing tastes goodness like factory farm chicken from Chile.

(BTW, I dropped in at our old haunt for the first time in a very long time. Lou is still going strong.)

worm said...

memo to self: Kingsnorth to present hilarious TV clip compilation 'Top Ten Troublemakers' where he takes a lighthearted look at famous troublemakers through the ages like himself, Emu, Freddie Starr and Mr Blobby.
Possible sponsorship tie-in with Bernard Matthews

Vern said...

A bit late on this I fear, but I would like to suggest that Kingsnorth revisits his debate in the Guardian on what to do about nasty old civilisation, only substituting tedious posh boy Monbiot for Mr. K's fellow West-hating apocalyptic reactionary Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Then the sparks would really fly!